GOTHENBURG: Shipments of connected wearable devices more than tripled in 2014 to 19m units, up from 5.9m in 2013, and they are expected to reach 168m units in 2019, a new study has forecast.

Swedish research firm Berg Insight said fitness and activity trackers were the largest category in 2014, recording shipments of 13m units, but that the market has now become very competitive with the entry of major technology companies.

"This product category is now facing fierce competition from smartwatches that have activity tracking features," said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight.

But, he predicted: "Decreasing prices and new form factors will still enable dedicated fitness and activity trackers to reach shipments of 42m units in 2019."

Sales of this new generation of smartwatches include Android Wear versions from Asus, LG, Motorola and Sony, which were launched in 2014, as well as the Apple Watch, which will enter the market in 2015.

Other major smartphone vendors are expected to follow, but traditional watch vendors also intend to compete in the coming years as they launch traditionally styled watches with basic smartphone notification features.

Although currently the second largest category of connected wearables, smartwatches are anticipated to become the largest category by 2019, the report said.

The market for smart glasses has been "very modest" so far, the report went on, but it is expected to become the third largest category in the next five years as the devices fill niche segments of the consumer market.

Smart glasses also have a place in specific work roles, such as medical treatment and particular enterprises.

"The opportunities are plentiful," said Svanberg. "Improved imaging capability together with hands-free operation, real-time communication and augmented reality functionality would, for example, make smart glasses a serious contender on the action camera market."

Data sourced from Berg Insight; additional content by Warc staff