The wearable-electronics market is experiencing a period of explosive growth, according to a recent report from analyst firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The survey of more than 1,000 respondents found that fitness wearable technology, which includes gadgets such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit and Misfit health trackers, are the most popular across all demographics.
More than half (57 percent) of the company’s survey respondents said they were excited about the future of wearable technology as a part of everyday life, up from 41 percent in 2014.
This indicates that enterprises and start-ups alike in the wearable device market will be on the hunt for top-tier talent, with legacy watchmakers and consumer electronics firms looking for a way to capture market share.
A May report from research firm Gartner found total shipment volumes of wearables reached 19.7 million units in the first quarter of the year, an increase of just under 70 percent from the 11.8 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2015.
However, the ability to balance technical packaging and system design with aesthetics and function will be particularly challenging, and wearables companies will need to draw from a talent pool that includes specialists in data analytics, privacy and security, and software and application developers.
“As with any technology—or technology-enabled—company today, there are certain skill-sets currently in high demand that are critical to the success of a company focused on designing and delivering wearable technology,” Mike Pegler, principal at PwC, told Dice.
He explained that, in many cases, the manufacturing and operations aspects of the devices are outsourced to contract manufacturers, so while executing on manufacturing is not a needed skill, managing contract manufacturing partners is.
Pegler also said that pulling in top talent to work on wearable technology is arguably more challenging than attracting traditional tech talent. With wearable devices, form and fashion are far more critical than in traditional technology sectors.
“While there are many individuals who have fashion skills and many that have technology skills, the challenge comes in finding people with both,” he noted.
As Pegler explained, there are a number of fundamental technical challenges that need to be overcome to achieve the full potential of wearable technology, such as battery life and easy approaches to charging.
“Innovative technical leaders are required to define solutions to these challenges,” he said. “Among startups, it will not be easy to attract top talent without a lucrative up-site potential or compelling other reason, such as a medically related in field in which the individual is personally motivated.”
Fitbit, which manufactures activity trackers and wireless-enabled wearable technology devices, currently lists more than 20 job openings on its careers page, ranging from user experience and design positions to health and fitness curriculum design and wearable product program management.
Among the perks and benefits the company offers are (perhaps unsurprisingly) free Fitbit products, flexible work schedules and the ability to work on a choice of Mac or PC.
A senior-level representative from Misfit, a wearable-technology company acquired by watchmaker Fossil, acknowledged how difficult it is to attract top tech talent in today’s wearables market. The company is looking to fill positions in the United States, Vietnam and China, with hardware and software engineers in particular demand.
The official, who asked not to be named, said Misfit’s connected-devices group is looking for great engineers who have a background in firmware or engineering program management. This exec also suggested that a fulfilling position and an atmosphere of purpose are the best perks that a company can offer: “I think everyone is looking for the same thing—meaningful work with people they like. I can’t think of a perk that beats that.”