Worldwide shipments of wearable devices are expected to reach 110 million by the end of 2016, with 38% growth over the previous year, according to the International Data Corp. (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Trackers.

An expanding lineup of vendors combined with fast-growing user awareness and demand will generate double-digit growth throughout the 2015-2020 forecast period, the firm says, culminating in shipments of 237.1 million wearable devices in 2020.

Market demand will also be driven by the proliferation of new and different wearable products. Watch and wristband shipments will reach a combined total of 100 million in 2016, up from 72.2 million in 2015. Other form factors, such as clothing, eyewear and hearables, are expected to reach 9.8 million units in 2016 and will more than double their share by 2020.

This will open the door for new experiences, use cases, and applications, IDC says. But the primary focus of the wearables market will be on smartwatches.

Although smartwatches such as the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices capture the spotlight, “they will only account for a quarter of all wearables in 2016 and will grow to about a third by 2020," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

It's time to start thinking about smarter watches, Ubrani said. “These devices have the potential of making the technology invisible while still integrating themselves within day-to-day activities,” he said. "By creating smarter watches, vendors also stand to side-step some of the typical challenges that smartwatch platforms face. There's no need to create a developer or app ecosystem for one thing, and there's plenty of room for simpler devices that appeal to the average user while smartwatches continue catering to the technophiles."

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