Wearables drive demand for wireless semis

1 min read

From wrist worn heart rate monitors to smart clothing that measures vital signs, wearable devices aimed at the health and fitness market have been gaining a lot of media attention of late.

With more people than ever wanting to track and analyse their latest run/bike ride/swim, demand for semiconductors with wireless connectivity is on the up. Market research firm IHS says wireless semiconductors will achieve double digit growth this year to reach 61.2million units (an 11% increase from 2013), and eventually climb to 95.78m units in 2018. "Because most health and fitness devices are mobile, wireless connectivity is important," said Lee Ratliff, principal analyst for connectivity at IHS. "And because these wireless mobile devices are in most cases also wearable and thus require a small form factor, they cannot be power hogs and must support low energy consumption to have the best chance of succeeding in the consumer market." Wireless connectivity mainly serves two purposes, Ratliff noted. Especially in sports and fitness applications, wireless connectivity is often used to provide a link to remote sensors when wired connectivity is too unmanageable. A second use is for data uploading, with wireless connectivity employed to upload fitness and performance data to PCs, smartphones, tablets or online communities for analysis and sharing. Among the various wireless technologies now available on the market for health and fitness, IHS says Bluetooth Smart is by far the most successful. Looking ahead to 2018, shipments of consumer health and fitness devices with integrated wireless connectivity are expected to grow to an estimated 75.7m units, up from just 23m units in 2011.