Smart headphones present a new direction for headphones and personal audio devices. Until now, headphones have been limited to playing music, general audio, or providing noise cancelation features. Smart headphones combine the intelligence of a smartphone with the audio capabilities of headphones, and extend those capabilities beyond any personal audio device. Some of these smart capabilities include language translation, fitness and heart rate tracking, voice-based personal assistants, contextual location-based suggestions, environment-based noise suppression or audio enhancement, and gesture and touch-based control, among others.
According to a new report from Tractica, worldwide smart headphone sales will experience rapid growth during the next several years, increasing from 833,000 units in 2016 to 5.6 million units in 2017, and rising further to 13.7 million units annually by 2022. By the end of that period, the market intelligence firm forecasts that smartphone headphones will represent a $2.2 billion annual market globally.
“Despite all the smart features fueling the excitement about smart headphones, a lot still needs fixing in terms of basic functionality, such as reliable Bluetooth connectivity, comfort, and battery life,” says research director Aditya Kaul. “Most smart headphones only come with 2 to 4 hours of battery life on a single charge, and with a small form factor that needs to fit a lot of hardware, there tend to be issues with the bulk and comfort factor for extended periods of use. Also, it is not very clear what smart features are likely to be popular among end users, who for the most part, are looking for usability and sound quality as their top feature sets. For now, smart headphones are an interesting step forward for headphones, but their role in terms of the future of computing is yet to be determined.”
Tractica’s report, “Smart Headphones”, examines the market trends and technology issues surrounding smart headphone devices and presents 7-year forecasts for unit shipments and revenue during the period from 2016 through 2022. Smart headphone applications and use cases are analyzed in depth, and the report also includes detailed profiles of 9 key industry players. Market forecasts, segmented by world region, include smart headphone shipments and revenue by application market and connectivity technology. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.