Barry Eitel

According to a new report from London analyst firm ABI Research, wearable computing may be the technology of the future.

There have been rumors churning the past few months that Apple is working on some sort of iWatch—basically, a tiny iPhone for your wrist. “Smart watches” already exist, like the Pebble, but they have yet to truly catch on.

An iWatch, however, could change the game. Apparently, ABI thinks smart watches will be a huge deal by the end of the decade.

“Wearable computing devices are projected to explode in popularity over the next year and with a wave of new gadgets set to hit the consumer market, could soon become the norm for most people within five years,” according to the report. “ABI Research forecasts the wearable computing device market will grow to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018.”

The important question, ABI seems to think, is how connected to outside devices would a smart watch be.

“The furor about wearable technologies, particularly smart watches and smart glasses is unsurprising,” says Josh Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research. “Apple’s curved glass-based watch could prove to be a revelation in the wearable technologies market. The major question is whether the digital time piece will act as a complimentary device to the company’s iPhone smartphones or as a standalone product with other functionalities like health or activity tracking capabilities.”

A smart watch would have to combine utility, convenience and style—something that Apple is admittedly very good at.

“Currently, sports and activity trackers account for the largest chunk of wearable technologies shipped today. Smart activity trackers are widely available, and the device’s trendy and stylish appearance makes them very popular with a broad range of customers. It is estimated 61% of the wearable technologies market is attributed to sport/activity trackers in 2013,” ABI continues. “Smartphone compatible watches are beginning to emerge, and rumors have materialized regarding Apple releasing a smart watch some time this year. Furthermore, we will see the arrival of the much anticipated, smart glasses later this year.”

Although some have questioned whether a smart watch would actually be that useful, ABI seems fully on board with the idea.

“Additionally,” ABI concludes, “smart watches offer extra usages for an item most people already own and commonly purchase. It may become universally expected for watches to include this functionality as feature in the future. Furthermore, the capabilities of smart watches could lead to the device being used as a wearable remote for home automation systems.

"A quick shake of your wrist to turn off/on room lights would be a very convenient tool.”