Two years ago the fitness tracker was tipped to become a dominant technology device. While 2013 and 2014 were purple patches for wearable tech companies, this year has seen a decline in sales and optimism.
The biggest problem for wearable companies has been their inability to keep people interested. All the reasons why people stop going to the gym are applicable to fitness trackers. For most, the motivation to keep fit comes in stages, and when it subsides, people aren't keen to track what three pints of lager and a pepperoni pizza has done to their body.
Recent reports, however, show that the industry is set for a successful 2016. The American College of Sports Medicine survey identified that wearable technology will be 2016's top fitness trend. The survey is perhaps more representative of the improving smartwatch market, with many users replacing their fitness tracker with the Apple Watch. Other products, including tech-embedded clothing, smart glasses and jewelry will help the industry bring in over $30 billion in 2016, with 140 million devices expected to be shipped - nearly three times more that this year's output.
Regular consumers will be responsible for the bulk of new sales, although elite sports clubs, the hospitality industry and the military are set to renew their interest, with heads-up displays the main selling point. The Internet of Things also promises to add a new layer to wearable tech, increasing connectivity and creating a new range of capabilities for users. Questions about what these capabilities actually are often throws up more questions than it answers, but what is clear is that the IoT is central to the public's recent optimism. The IoT's benefits are expected to have come to fruition by 2020, with 1.9 billion devices predicted to be connected by that time.
Despite these grand ambitions, wearable manufacturers need to come good on their plans and produce devices that not only have a unique use case, but are also fashionable. This will be particularly pertinent with wearable clothing, with previous attempts thwarted by clunky designs where the tracker is visible. Ralph Lauren is an example of a fashion house which has already made strides in stylish, wearable clothing. The Apple Watch has also set a high bar for smartwatch style, and the company's nearest competitors will be working to make sure that they can at least emulate Apple's first wearable watch.
The wearable industry holds a lot of potential, but things need to be developed if it's to fulfill its promise. The IoT, however, could breed new life into the industry and make it a force for 2016.