“Wearables, connected technology that consumers wear, is a blanket category that includes fitness bands, smartwatches, virtual reality headsets, and smart glasses. Here’s how wearables fared among consumers this year:

  • Almost as many consumers are using a fitness band as are using an eBook. The share of consumers who said they owned or had access to a fitness band in 2017 rose to 23%, up from 17% in 2016. eBook ownership was 24% in 2017. Fitness bands are much more affordable than smartwatches, but have more limited use cases.
  • Smartwatches made marginal gains in 2017 but are primed to have a big 2018.Just 13% of respondents said they owned or had ready access to a smartwatch, up just 1 percentage point from last year and a full 10 percentage points behind fitness bands. When consumers were asked if they’d be interested in smartwatches, 32% of respondents said they would be, up from 25% in 2016. Stand-alone LTE connectivity, which lets a smartwatch function without being tethered to a smartphone, should drive smartwatch adoption in 2018.
  • One in 10 consumers has access to a VR headset. The share of consumers who owned or had access to a VR headset in 2017 rose to 10%, up from 8% in 2016. The increase in ownership is likely due to the increase in VR content across platforms. There should be a much more significant lift in VR headset access in 2018, as new products in the more affordable “stand-alone headset” category that don’t require a computer or smartphone to function come to market.

While smartglasses are not yet a major consumer tech category, interest in the nascent wearable is growing among US consumers. More than 1-in-5 respondents said they’d be interested in smart glasses in 2017, up from 16% in 2016 (see chart, below). This bodes well for overall augmented reality (AR) adoption, and indicates that once AR headsets come to market they’ll have a sizable addressable market. Snap is reportedly working on an AR-enabled version of its Spectacles connected glasses project that could launch in 2018, and it’s rumored that Apple is developing AR glasses that could launch in 2019.”