Wearable computing vendors such as Honeywell International Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corp. could see a steep jump in sales by 2021, as retailers and logistics providers are on track to triple their spending on wearable scanners for fulfillment work, a report says.
Led by demand from the warehousing, manufacturing, and transportation industries, global shipments of wearable scanners are forecast to reach nearly 22 million units by 2021, up from seven million units in 2016, according to the London-based analyst firm ABI Research.
Companies such as Amazon.com Inc., Boeing Co., Deutsche Post DHL Group, FedEx Corp., IBM Corp., and UPS Inc. need a more efficient way for their workers to scan barcodes on packages during picking and packing operations, the firm says. In response, wearable computing devices are quickly migrating from consumer applications like the Fitbit and Apple Watch to business tasks such as warehousing and fulfillment, according to the ABI report "Enterprise Wearable Scanner and Reader Technologies: Devices, use cases, and supplier ecosystem analysis."
That trend is driving demand for products such as wearable ring scanners from Honeywell and Zebra, glove scanners from manufacturers like ProGlove, and smart glasses from providers such as Vuzix Corp., ABI says.
"Wearable scanners boost business productivity, offering workers a faster, hands-free alternative to the need for traditional hand-held scanners and paper picklists," Stephanie Lawrence, an ABI research analyst, said in a statement. "Ring barcode scanners, glove scanners, and smart glasses are the most popular forms, which, depending on the device type, allow their wearers to scan barcodes, record processes, and access information without interruption."