Electronics.ca Publishes Smart Fabric Components Report

Electronics.ca Publications, the electronics industry market research and knowledge network, announces the availability of a new report entitled “Wearable Electronics Systems Global Market Demand Analysis: Infotainment Solutions.” As the market for wearable infotainment systems is nascent, there is little defined structure to the industry. There are a limited number of products currently on the market, resulting in limited success to date. However, there are a multitude of potential wearable applications that could meet consumer requirements and unmet needs, and numerous companies could be well positioned to achieve sales of wearable systems with the appropriate technology, form factor, and marketing.

The new market research report reveals that a key opportunity for wearable infotainment solutions will be driven by the further development of smart fabric solutions. The overall opportunity for smart fabric components for consumer applications is expected to grow from $52 million in 2006 to over $700 million by 2011. Much of the initial success is for control functionality found in solutions developed by performance apparel vendors such as O’Neill and from specialty vendors such as Eleksen.

Key challenges facing industry participants are manifold. Central to many are the limited capabilities of existing battery and therefore power/performance solutions, management of the balance between electronic and apparel replacement cycles, and receiving proper product distribution and support from fashion retail outlets.

Currently, the largest segment of the wearable infotainment market is for Bluetooth headsets. Leaders in this segment include mobile phone and peripheral vendors such as Motorola, Plantronics and GN Jabra. Outside of Bluetooth headsets, the competitive environment is much more fragmented and includes a variety of organizations, such as smart fabric enabling technology vendors, garment/clothing vendors and other communications and personal electronics suppliers. As technical and commercial value chains have yet to fully evolve, organizations have relied on more of a turnkey approach to product development and only now are starting to evaluate opportunities to outsource non-critical functions.

Driven by a variety of safety and performance/convenience criteria, the Bluetooth headset has been a resounding success and currently represents an 80 million unit opportunity. Initially hindered by cultural acceptance (Borg factor) and performance issues, the use of wireless headsets is increasingly becoming commonplace. The success of the headset market, according to the report, is closely correlated to the acceptance of Bluetooth technology as the de facto personal area wireless technology. Wearable solution providers need to better leverage this available “wireless infrastructure” as an increasing ratio of personal electronic solutions are embedding Bluetooth functionality in their devices.

More info: Electronics.ca Publications