COMPUTEX 2014 has already been an exciting and rich experience and we're only through Day 1 here in Taipei, Taiwan. One of the themes that was promised and is delivering is the number of solution presentations for the burgeoning wearable devices market. As IDC recently forecasted, the global wearable market is gaining significant momentum this year and is expected to reach 19.2 million device shipments in 2014. The IDC CAGR forecast for the 2014-2018 period is almost tenfold, looking at wearable devices to reach 111.9 million, a 78.4% increase. These numbers are parallel to the growth waves experienced for smartphones and tablets, meaning that we are on the cusp of the next positive disruption for the consumer electronics (CE) market.
Wearables demand new IC designs
Opportunities are many for the wearables market, as is obvious from the trade show floor here in Taipei. The number of new designs and innovative solutions for integrating wearables with networks and/or networked devices is truly opening up. The thrust behind this momentum is the rapid expansion of connected devices comprising the Internet of Things (IoT), also readily on display again this year. What makes this year different from recent years and COMPUTEX different from earlier shows this year, is the next phase of design and testing that is being presented.
ARM is showcasing solutions designed for the new wearables market as well as having announced at COMPUTEX that they are opening their first CPU design center in Asia, to be located in Hsinchu Science Park, Hsinchu, Taiwan. As explained in the announcement by ARM:
"Close proximity to key semiconductor and ecosystem partners and high-caliber local engineering talent makes Taiwan an ideal location for us to expand our CPU design activities," said Simon Segars, chief executive officer of ARM. "The new design center will have a particular focus on the development of ARM Cortex-M processors which are the market-leading design choice for IoT products."
The many new solution series being presented at COMPUTEX, and particularly supported by new R&D ventures such as ARM's, are showing us how IoT and SmarTech go hand-in-hand, the smart device is the interface through which multiple IoT devices are accessed and used either simultaneously or iteratively based on the user's needs, but those devices are, meanwhile, collecting the data that will provide increasing predictive power as data changes are noted and understood. One example of high grade data collection for the wearable market is, of course, medical devices and health tracking, holding tremendous promise for preventative intervention to avert serious medical episodes for people whether in hospital, during daily life, or in remote locations.
The applications for successful wearable solutions that leverage both IoT and SmarTech are vast and important as well as presenting many entertainment opportunities for the CE sector. Taken together, and alongside of the many new devices and designs on display here at COMPUTEX in the various theme areas as well as through exhibitors' demonstrations, the CAGR forecasts for the global wearable sector may actually prove to be conservative.