For various reasons, the wearables market has been growing rather steadily over the last several years. There was the novelty of seeing how many steps or miles you have walked, jogged or run or how many flights of stairs climbed in a day. Then it became a competitive sport, so consumers could see where they fit in relation to peers, colleagues or friends.
The number of wearable devices in the market continues to grow with consumers leaning toward those that are smarter. The number of devices shipped in the third quarter increased 7% from a year ago, totaling 26 million units, based on the latest tracking numbers. The trend is now toward smart wearables, devices that are capable of running third-party applications.
'Tis the season for the smart speaker. Over the last weekend, Amazon reported that its Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa remote were the best-selling products in any category in all of Amazon.com. Now it looks like that's just the beginning.
Part of the wearables market is morphing into a hearables market. Ever since Apple, Google and more smartphone makers started ditching the audio jack in a move to wireless audio, the market for wireless hearing devices has taken off. Within five years, there will be 285 million hearables in use, a growth rate of 46% a year, according to a new forecast from Juniper Research.
Serious virtual reality is getting more serious. Many consumers are familiar with virtual reality that uses a smartphone, such as Samsung's Gear VR or Google's Daydream View. While those headsets continue to flood the market, shipments of the heavier duty, computer-driven VR headsets are gaining traction.
The elves are back for the holidays and this year they're bringing a bit of augmented reality along with them. The annual ElfYourself app update from Office Depot dips a bit into AR for a couple of its new dances this season. The mobile app, which allows people to elf themselves by quickly adding faces of up to five family members or friends, shows elves dancing around to a number of tunes.
The old coupon is getting a new technology. Enter the coupon chatbot. A new forecast suggests that chatbots offer significant potential in terms of loyalty as well as through the auto-creation of personalize offers.
While Uber and Volvo made noise with their joint deal on self-driving cars this week, neither is tearing up the track when it comes to patents for autonomous vehicles. Earlier this week, Volvo announced that Uber agreed to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from the automaker starting at the beginning of 2019. However, a new analysis of the flings of patents relating to autonomous driving show Volvo and Uber both way behind even traditional automakers such as GM, Ford and Honda.
Uber is moving ahead with self-driving cars in a big way. Volvo just announced that it will be selling tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible cars to the ride-sharing company starting in 2019. The non-exclusive deal involves up to 24,000 cars to be sold over a two-year period.
In the world of wearable bands, Apple is back on top. Thanks to the launch of the Apple Watch Series 3, shipments of Apple devices topped all others in the last quarter, based on a new report. The last quarter was the strongest of the year so far for Apple, which shipped 3.9 million units, according to Canalys.