Though 130 million units of wrist-based computers and smart glasses are expected to be sold in 2018, the health care and technology sectors will have to climb steep dunes to ride the wearable tech wave, according to a new study.

One would think that the sector that birthed the wearable tech movement would have the easiest go at profiting from the rocketing sales of smart things. But that's not the case. While the field of manufacturers is crowded, the winners are few.

In order for the technology field as a whole to benefit from the surging sales of wearable tech, manufacturers will have to drop the exclusive relationships of the past and embrace the philosophy behind the Internet of Things, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers' new research, "The Wearable Future" report.

"For wearables to be effective across both primary and secondary devices, there needs to be an established frequency of measurement," says Mike Pegler, principal at PwC's US technology practice. "Enterprises must forge partnerships and develop IT and platform alliances to deliver seamless experiences on both the front end and back end of wearable implementations."

The PwC report, released Oct. 21, indicates the retail and media sectors will likely have the best opportunity to engage in the emerging market for wearable tech. Approximately 72 of the study's respondents indicated they envision wearable tech as a tool to improve customer service.

In the health sector, consumers are understandably more cautious with exchanging information via technology. There's also the cost of owning wearable tech and PwC reportes users are hoping for insurance incentives for using wearable tech.

"Wearable data can be used by insurers and employers to better manage health, wellness and healthcare costs, by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to run more robust clinical trials, and by healthcare providers to capture data to support outcomes-based reimbursement," says Vaughn Kauffman, principal at PwC Health Industries. "But it will be critical to address the consumer concerns that we've identified, such as cost, privacy, and ease of use."

Like the technology sector, healthcare will have to rely on products that are interoperable and "outcome driven," Kauffman says. Respondents in the study cited privacy issues and many even stated they are unwilling to share health information even with family and friends.

"Physicians already have the trust of consumers, and healthcare organizations have expertise in protecting personal health information," states PwC's report. "Consumers will want to see those high standards applied to health wearables data, especially as they become integrated into electronic medical records."

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