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Smartwatches and fitness bands set for explosive growth though to 2018

When it comes to wearables, the market is set to grow by a factor of 14 in the next four years, and it will be dominated by wrist-worn devices.

So claims the latest piece of research from CCS Insight, which estimates that the number of smart wearables shipped will expand to 135 million in 2018 (with 9.7 million shipped in 2013). The vast majority of those devices, 87 per cent of them, will be wrist-worn smartwatches and fitness bands, the firm reckons – as opposed to the likes of Google Glass or indeed more weird and wonderful inventions such as smart shoes.

CCS thinks that 68 million smartwatches will be shipped, and 50 million wristbands either with no screen or a "minimal one-line display" – in other words, extremely cheap to make and sell devices with basic fitness capabilities and not much else.

Fitness trackers are the fastest growing category when it comes to smart wear, as they have a clear and obvious purpose, and are becoming more affordable. Wearables are expected to sell well as stocking fillers this Christmas, which is nothing we haven't heard before, as last month Samsung's Gear Fit was predicted to be the top tech gift for the season.

Related: Technology companies overcharging consumers for smartwatches, glasses and fitness bands

Marina Koytcheva, CCS Insight's Director of Forecasting commented: "Wearables are poised to be the perfect gift for the person who has everything this Christmas. We believe this will fuel strong growth in the final quarter of 2014 for smart bands, particularly fitness trackers, which will account for more than half of the 35 million wearables in use at end of 2014."

She warned, however, that the wearables market is still very much in the developmental stages, and that "there needs to be huge improvements to broaden their appeal. This is particularly acute when it comes to devices for women: wearables need to quickly move on from black, clunky devices; fortunately we're starting to see the first steps in this direction."

That's something we've been saying for ages – and the Moto 360 will help in that regard, as will Apple's (allegedly) upcoming iWatch.

One final fact for you: unsurprisingly, the territory in which wearables have been most adopted is North America, with 40 per cent of all wearables being used over in the US (with 5.2 million sold last year). Western Europe is catching up, though, and is expected to overtake come 2016.