Our Top Picks for Must-Attend Wearable Electronics Conferences in 2017

2017 is set to be the biggest year yet for wearable electronics conferences; currently, there are 70 scheduled wearables conferences globally. Many conferences look at the broader innovation happening in wearables, with 41% (28 total) focusing on overall wearable development; this can be in hardware, software, or niche use cases. Conferences focusing solely on software and app development follow closely behind with 33% of the total. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been receiving more attention recently in wearable electronics and similarly in digital health & wellness (client registration required).

North America (driven by conferences in the United States) dominates the regional location, with 26 occurring in California alone. We have previously discussed the global hotspots for wearable electronics innovation ([see the report “10 Global Hotspots for Wearable Electronics Innovation”] client registration required), and the conference geographic breakdown matches what we had found in innovation, where the United States has a large presence in academic activity, start-up activity, patents, start-up backing by venture capital, government programs, enterprise deployments, and device sales.

Attending every conference may not be feasible, so we have highlighted major “must-attend” conferences in each catagory that provide greater insight into innovation in wearables:

  • Overall wearables: Consumer Electronics Show (CES) (Las Vegas, NV – January 2018). This conference has it all for consumer-facing products, from the hardware design to analytics innovation. CES will cover all consumer use cases for wearables: AR/VR, sensors, software, and health and wellness. In 2016, there were more than 175,000 overall participants, with 65,000 exhibitor personnel and over 1,100 speakers.
  • AR/VR: Augmented World Expo (AWE) (Santa Clara, CA – May 2017). This is the largest AR expo in the world, with events in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. AWE 2016 saw nearly 4,000 people join 200 speakers and 200 exhibitors. While smaller than CES, the event still brings a mix of CEOs, CTOs, designers, developers, investors, and analysts.
  • Sensors: Sensors Expo (San Jose, CA – June 2017). This event focuses exclusively on sensors and sensor-integrated systems and can be considered the sensor industry’s leading tradeshow. In 2016, there were approximately 6,000 attendees and more than 300 exhibitors.
  • Software: Developer Week (San Francisco, CA – February 2017). This event goes well beyond wearables and is for software developers, but has focus areas in IoT, VR, data, and mobile, which all contribute to an overall wearable product. The event is one of the larger developer conferences, with over 8,000 attendees.

By: Thomas Dawidczyk