While it’s unclear which companies will dominate wearable computing, one category has taken an early lead: The battery industry.
The global market for the batteries that power wearable devices is projected to grow tenfold over the next four years, according to a new report from IHS Technology. Worldwide revenue is estimated to reach $77 million by 2018, up from $6 million this year, as more consumers purchase smartphones, health monitoring devices and smart glass.
“Wearable electronics will be the key to sustaining the current very high growth levels in battery revenue in consumer electronics,” IHS analyst Thomas McAlpine said in a statement.
Last year saw the introduction of smartwatches from Samsung, Pebble and others, and the debut of Google Glass. As wearable computers morph from geek chic to mainstream consumer product, IHS estimates shipments will rise to 56 million units — fueling demand for batteries.
Lithium polymer batteries likely will command the bulk of the market, accounting for 73 percent of revenue, according to IHS’ projections. These are typically lighter and more malleable than lithium-ion batteries.
Smartphones and tablet computers will continue to spur growth in the lithium battery market, with shipments of these devices projected to grow 46 percent from 2013 through 2015. After that, growth will stabilize as the market matures.
“That means that the emergence of new applications in the market is critical,” McAlpine said.