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How Apple's iWatch Can Help Wearables

Stocks in this article: AAPL GOOG INTC

Updated from 9:39 a.m. to include additional information in the last paragraph on the second page.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wearable devices are supposed to be the next big thing out of technology, yet early adoption so far has been slow. The same issue happened with tablets, MP3 players, and the smartphone, until one company came in and changed everything. Who's that? Apple (AAPL) of course.

The technology industry has been pushing it for a couple of years, be it with Jawbone's various devices, Fitbit's offerings, or Samsung's attempts with its Galaxy Gear smartwatch offerings. Samsung's initial offering was released in Sept. 2013, but received such criticism (including yours truly) that Samsung has already released a second version, as it seeks to break into the market, expected to be worth $60 billion by 2018, according to IHS.

With Apple's rumored device not set until at least the third quarter (more likely a Sept. release), the market and its players have some time to figure it out before Apple comes in and dominates, just as it did with the iPod, iPhone and iPads.

Google (GOOG), perhaps Apple's biggest competitor when it comes to the mobile device market (Google recently sold off its Motorola hardware division to Lenovo), recently announced Android Wear, which will use the Internet giant's mobile operating system, Android, tailored for wearable devices. Initially, like most wearable devices, Android Wear will be used for the health and fitness segment, as companies try to figure out additional marketable uses for smart devices.

The health and fitness market was the initial idea behind Intel's (INTC) purchase of Basis Science, a maker of smart-watches. Mike Bell, general manager of Intel's New Devices Group, said as the market plays out overtime and the technology gets better and looks more like a fashion accessory, we'll begin to see mass adoption.

"No smart-watch device solves anything for people in any good way," Bell said in a March 26 interview. "Over time, in the next couple of years, we're going to see more use cases. The capabilities in the Basis product will make it better, but I do think that biometrics are important on a going forward basis for watches or whatever."

Bell noted that the Basis team, which will report directly to him, has "incredible experience building health and wellness products," something that's very important for the wearables space right now. "The Basis guys have done something useful -- take data and make recommendations or set goals. I believe as we try to turn hype into reality, health and fitness is the reality."

Intel acquired Basis earlier this year for a reported $100 million, but Intel would not confirm that number.

Aside from inputting what you ate, tracking how many calories you've burned and how many steps you've taken, perhaps the biggest reason for wearable technology, at this stage, is health care and medical. Use cases such as Blood Pressure Monitors, Insulin Pumps, Continuous Glucose Monitoring, Defibrillators, Patches, Drug Delivery Products, PERS, ECG Monitors, Pulse Oximetry and Hearing Aids just to name a few will have an increasingly important role for wearable technology as populations get older and health care costs rise.

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