Strong growth in wearables continues year over year

You’ll likely see many more Apple Watches – and other devices like them – as the number of wearables bought by consumers continues to rise by more than 18% a year, a growth rate that means the number of wearables sold between 2016 and 2021 is posed to more than double, according to a study by International Data Corporation.

In 2016 consumers took home 102.4 million wearable devices; by 2021 that annual figure is expected to reach 237.5 million.

From finger rings that indicate an incoming call on your smartphone, to armband fitness trackers such as Fitbit, to augmented reality glasses — the market for wearables continues to gain ground.

Health and fitness remains a major focus according to the report, but the market should also see an uptick in products geared for fashion, “smart” earpieces, and various other monitoring devices.

One upcoming wearable is a watch that tracks alcohol consumption, while Fitbit is introducing a new heart rate wristband.

Meanwhile, from personal to company usage, Samsung is introducing a wearable task management platform, “designed to improve workforce management for hospitality, retail and transportation markets.”

For at least three years, businesses have been eagerly embracing and anticipating new wearables to improve overall productivity, a study noted.

A big push was expected by businesses “looking to supply employees with all types of new body gadgetry.” More than two thirds of the executives surveyed wanted to develop a “wearables strategy” for their employees. “The wearable market will take off as brands, retailers, sports stadiums, healthcare companies, and others develop new business models to take advantage of wearables,” J.P. Gownder, the author of the 2014 report, wrote.

To some extent, those predictions have come to fruition today.

Though, in the race to integrate wearable technology, many are forgetting that these, too, are susceptible to outside tampering.

Indeed, one serious issue often overlooked is that wearables, like most digital devices, do come with security vulnerabilities.

A recent article in FedTech warns: “IT officials should conduct risk assessments on the potential security weaknesses of each model, including which threats each model may face and how to mitigate them.”

In fact, two security bodies – the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the US’s Homeland Security – have come out with extensive lists of cautions on these issues.

And so, while your Fitbit-tracked heart rate or sleeping patterns might not have much relevance to a hacker – and you may not care whether they have that information anyway – any company utilizing a wearable will eventually need to find smart ways to protect their digital information, given privacy concerns and the value that information has for determining customer patterns and marketing programs.

At the zooming pace and proliferation of wearables, such security is increasingly important.

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