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iWatch-Like Wearable Tech to Hit 485 Million Shipments by 2018

The world is on the cusp of  wearable computing explosion, according to ABI Research forecasts. The large amount of fitness gadgets at CES 2013 is just the beginning; the wearable computing market is expected to mushroom to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018.

Sports and activity trackers, such as the Jawbone Up and the Fitbit Flex, make up the largest share of the current wearable computing market. But smart watches are starting to gain popularity, and the anticipated releases of the rumored Apple iWatch and Google's Project Glass should cause exponential growth in this area.

It's not yet clear whether wearable tech will find success as standalone products or as complimentary accessories to existing devices. Smart watches and fitness trackers currently sync with smartphones, tablets or computers to deliver full functionality. The next generation of wearable tech products may cut this cord and work as independent devices, thus increasing their market appeal.

"Apple’s curved glass-based watch could prove to be a revelation in the wearable technologies market," said Josh Flood, senior analysis at ABI Research. "The major question is whether the digital time piece will act as a complimentary device to the company’s iPhone smartphones or as a standalone product with other functionalities like health or activity tracking capabilities.”