As the electronic textile market continues to grow, market players are participating in the evolution from first generation (attaching a sensor to a garment), through second-generation (embedding sensors in garments), to third-generation wearables, where the garment is the sensor.
The new IDTechEx report, “E-textiles 2019-2029: Technologies, Markets and Players,” includes brand new data about e-textiles revenue with a look at 200 companies. While many have existed for a long time in the industry by making the majority of their revenue from R&D or design contracts, rather than from product revenue, this version of the report focuses on specific product revenue across different sectors (including biometric monitoring, heating, lighting and other e-textiles) and includes additional historical data and short-term estimates for the total revenues of companies working in the space.
James Hayward, Principal Analyst at IDTechEx and lead author on the report, said, “Many of the companies in this emerging industry make the majority of their revenue on a project-by-project basis, with the component of consulting and R&D revenue often being more significant than just looking at products sold. In previous years, we have collated data to understand the volumes and revenues from product shipments in e-textiles. In this edition, we expanded on this to include historic data on all revenue from e-textiles companies, as well as representation of the different industries and product types from each player. The result is not only a projection of future opportunity in the space but also a detailed study of the current and short-term scenario for the current players in the industry today.”
Many companies continue to investigate this sector, fueled by a clear, long-term vision for the potential around e-textiles. Textile products have a ubiquity that electronics companies can only dream of. Electronic products and their surrounding digital ecosystem are the key products for the four largest companies in the world (by market capitalization, as of 2019). The idea to combine the features of each, providing a comfortable, fashionable, customizable interface between humans and digital products, creating huge value in the process, is central to the big-picture thinking of many speculative investors today.
However, the industry remains a very long way from this eventuality. Many more real challenges exist for e-textiles companies today, from optimizing supply chain and manufacturing to validating product value in the minds of consumers, through to end-of-life management of the products once they are sold. Steps are being taken to consolidate advanced manufacturing in-house, pursue medical approval routes for biometric monitoring after consumer routes have proven unfavorable, and by optimizing materials, with recycling or disposal in mind. These early steps are critical to establishing real short-term revenue before developing bigger picture ideas.