When the IFA -- Europe's biggest consumer electronics show -- opens its doors to the press and the public on September 5, smartwatches are expected to be among the main attractions. But it turns out that consumers are more interested in health and fitness than in wearing a remote control for their smartphones on their wrists.
Despite a host of tech commentators and research firms proclaiming that 2014 is going to be the year of wearable technology, it looks as if widespread consumer adoption of most types of devices is still some years away, even if awareness is growing.
Currently, most smartwatches on the market sell themselves as a smartphone companion -- a second screen for viewing notifications (missed calls, incoming messages or the weather) or for offering control over a music player.
However, according to a new in-depth report into the state of the wearable technology market by Accenture, it's health and fitness features that are driving consumer interest in wearable tech.
Of the 2000+ US consumers it polled for the 2014 State of the Internet of Things Study, the consultancy and technology services firm found that 22 % of respondents are already sporting a fitness band or have committed to doing so before 2015 and that by 2019 43 % of consumers will be using one.
And when it comes to awareness of and willingness to adopt wearable tech, men appear to be slightly further ahead of the curve than women. Just over half (53%) of men plan to buy a wearable technology device within the next five years, compared with 45 % of women.
However, the roles are reversed when it comes to health-and-fitness-focused wearables; 8 % of women have already adopted them, compared with 7 % of men.
The results show that an interest in health and fitness plus the appetite of tech-savvy early adopters for new gadgets are currently the major driving forces behind wearable tech but that by 2019 many of the devices, from wristbands and trackers to smartwatches, will have become mass consumer items.
Three quarters of respondents that see themselves as mass consumers, rather than early or late adopters, believe that they'll have bought a wearable tech device by 2019 and 42 percent of mass consumers think that they'll have taken the plunge by 2016. As for self-confessed late adopters, 62 % think that they will be part of the wearable tech craze by 2019.
Breaking the numbers down further by age shows that just over one third (36%) of Millennials (18-to-25-year-olds) plan on buying their first piece of wearable technology within the next five years, compared with 25 % of those 45 or older and that 59 % of consumers aged 26 to 35 will be investing in a health or fitness tracker over the same period.