Smart Fabric or Interactive Textile Products Market Seen on the Horizon

1/14/2003 - According to a new market study from Venture Development Corporation (VDC) titled "The Global Market for Wearable Computers: The Quest for Killer Applications", worldwide shipments of clothing based ("smart fabric") wearable products are expected to total over $47 million in 2006. VDC forecasts commercial shipments of integrated clothing based wearable solutions starting 2002.

Lead Analyst Tim Shea believes that the potential upside for interactive textile or smart fabric products is even more tremendous should certain best case scenario assumptions come to pass. "The true potential for smart fabrics in 2006 could be well over $100 million, assuming development of more viable "smart fabric" products that reach the market in 2003. Feedback from almost 500 user respondents provided compelling possibilities of near-term adoption, assuming that product offerings can reach the market through viable channels and with adequate advertising and promotion support," Shea says.

VDC has identified 6 key factors driving demand for "smart fabric" or interactive textile products:

Interactive textiles or so-called smart fabric products will be reaching the market for healthcare/medical, public safety, military, and sporting applications later this year. These products will be designed to monitor the wearer's physical well being and vital signs such as heart rate, temperature, and caloric consumption, among many others.

VDC forecasts the fastest growth for interactive textiles demand in market segments such as healthcare/medical, consumer-sports and outdoor activities, and the military, among others. Users in these markets are expected to embrace the true Wearability and comfort and bio-monitoring functionality provided by these products.

The emergence of interactive textile or "smart fabric" products will also be driven by technological improvements and increasing reliance on MEMs based integrated sensors. Development of flexible displays comprised of OLED or LEP technologies will be integrated into clothing solutions, providing the ability to view information in real-time via wireless communications.

There are many companies (some of the leaders in this development include: Sensatex, DuPont, ADA, Foster-Miller, Santa Fe Science and Technology, SOFTswitch, and International Fashion Machines, among others) developing interactive textile products for usage in a wide range of applications.

Some of the first smart clothing products to reach the market will include VectraSense's "smart sneaker", which uses intelligence to adjust sole support, and Burton Snowboards' "smart ski jacket". The jacket is equipped with SOFTswitch's patented pressure sensing technology that creates a "fabric based" keypad used to operate an integrated Sony mini disc-player. Such unique product offerings are just "the tip of the iceberg", according to Shea.

The genesis for interactive textiles and wearable computing have sprung to life after funding for various military programs lead to technological developments that were later leveraged in commercial applications. The Objective Force Warrior program being run out of the Natick Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts and the recent funding of $50 million to MIT from the Pentagon to develop futuristic uniforms for the soldier, including integrated sensors and electronics, are other such initiatives expected to help facilitate ideas and innovations that will lead to greater commercial successes.

The report, "The Global Market for Wearable Computers: The Quest for Killer Applications", provides market sizes, segmentation, and forecasts for wearable computers by functional type and form factors. Shipments are provided in dollar volume and units with forecasts through 2006. Market segmentation and forecasts include by geographic regions (Americas, Asia-Pacific, EMEA), by market segments, input devices and wireless networks, and operating systems.

Market segmentation is also provided by sales channels.
Vendor shipments and market shares are provided worldwide, and in each of the major geographic regions. Vendor shipments and market shares are provided for form factors and vendor rankings are given for functional type and major markets served.

Detailed profiles are provided on the 7 leading vendors.

The report provides strategies and recommendations on how vendors can enhance their positions in the markets for wearable computers. These include product recommendations, recommended market segments, distribution strategies, and strategies for developing strategic partnerships.

Study Source
Venture Development Corporation, a technology market research and strategy firm, was founded in 1971. Over the years, VDC has developed and fine-tuned a unique and highly successful methodology for realistically forecasting and analyzing highly dynamic technology markets. VDC has extensive experience in providing multi-client and proprietary analysis in the MEMS/MST market. VDC also offers proprietary market research and a wide range of strategy consulting services in the areas of industrial measurement and control, factory automation, communications, electronic components, retail automation, power equipment, embedded systems and software, AIDC and RF technology.

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