Product Development

A Little Piece For The Internet Of Things (IoT) On Sports Wearables

about_the_book-1We wrote the following piece for Telit’s Internet of things executive handbook it was nice to take a broader view of the context of what’s happening in sport.

 James, DA. (2016) Wearable Technology in Sport: An exemplar of the Internet of Things A. Bufalino (Ed.) In Internet of things executive handbook (pp 48-49), Telit Communications, Germany

Wearable technology, a key component in the Internet of Things (IoT), offers the opportunity for information and life to seamlessly integrate. Although the technologies are just beginning, they are not only fashionable but also very topical through tremendous growth as we consider the many possibilities. Wearable technology and its adoption in sports are viewed through the underlying trends in technology development, technology uptake and its transformative effects on several industries.

We have found that both the component technologies and ensuing market size agree with the trends outlined by Moore’s Law. We see wearables as a vital link in the convergence of many technologies, from smart sensors, fabrics that incorporate communication technologies through to large-scale data centres, all driven not by legislation but by consumer desire.

In the medium term (5-10 years) there will be from 8-30 times more wearable devices on the market for medical, sport, leisure and lifestyle applications. Beyond sport, and the scope of this article, we foresee future scenarios in the areas of health (prevention, outpatient and recovery services), consumer behaviour and everyday living.

sportsOf the likely scenarios for wearable sensors, the sports industry tends to lead the way, with many wearable products now used actively in the training of athletes and dominating the recent CES (a global consumer electronics show) in Las Vegas, 2014. Why, because sports is engaging, has a positive message, there are some very powerful brands and sport also touches on many personal aspirations.

For example, the 2014 Engadget Best of CES Awards featured many wearable sports products with the peoples’ choice award scoring over 50%. Beyond the glitz, there are several factors that indicate why wearable technology and sport go so well together.

The global sports industry is estimated at around $US620B and considerably larger when the ancillary benefits to health, cost savings, productivity improvements are considered. This is reputedly the world’s third largest market. Wearable technology is a small slice of this at just a few billion today, but growing by an estimated 20% a year. Sport as a leisure activity attracts passion from participants and is an example of positivity and free choice for the participants. The growth in leisure products is driven by the innate competitive nature of sports to improve performance, the desire to emulate elite sporting stars, and the dream of an augmented, better self.


Sport provides many favourable characteristics for products: it has a lower barrier to the marketplace because of the ‘fad’ nature of the products, fast cycle times and there are fewer barriers to entry, such as the absence of the TGA (therapeutic goods act) in the case of medical devices. The market shows little sign of saturation and seems to be driven from the supply side by startups and early adopters: it meets a growing demand from data-driven consumers. The historical trends of exponential growth seem set to continue when looking at the historical and future trends of the underlying technologies. The market appetite for association with technology has led sports businesses to adopt online/mobile strategies that demonstrate a 680% increase in ROI. More specifically, Nike has launched an accelerator programme for developers interested in their Nike Fuel and other wearable technology products.

Sport facilitates the dream of a better, sexier, fitter self; products can tap into this dream and function as an enabler; it has its exemplars and idols and sporting brands that are very recognizable; and it has spread in a social way such as Fitbit, who have created and captured 77% of the existing market.

References (Not included in the final published version)

James, D. A. (2006). The application of inertial sensors in elite sports monitoring. In The Engineering of Sport 6 (pp. 289-294). Springer New York.

Engadget (2104) date accessed 29042014

Kearney, AT (2011). The sports market: Major trends and challenges in an industry full of passion. Date accessed 90414

Frontier Economics (2010), The economic contribution of sport to Australia, date accessed 290414

James, D. A. (2015) “Wearable technology – An economic forecast”, date accessed July 07, 2015

Mason, D. S. (1999). What is the sports product and who buys it? The marketing of professional sports leagues. European Journal of Marketing, 33(3/4), 402-419.

Sanchez, R. (1996). Strategic product creation: Managing new interactions of technology, markets, and organizations. European Management Journal, 14(2), 121-138.

Carlaw, S (2013) Emerging Bluetooth Verticals, Bluetooth World Shanghai

Google insights (2013) Understanding the Full Value of Mobile: Adidas Drives In-Store Traffic with Mobile) accessed 290414


Hof, R (2014) How Fitbit Survived As A Hardware Startup, Forbes, Accessed 290414


James, DA. (2016) Wearable Technology in Sport: An exemplar of the Internet of Things A. Bufalino (Ed.) In Internet of things executive handbook (pp 48-49), Telit Communications, Germany


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