New research is predicting that 36 million app enabled smartwatches will be sold globally every year by 2018. That compares to just over 1 million this year.

The study by UK based technology analysis firm, Juniper Research, said the attraction of smartwatches will be their multi-functionality. Features like payments, ticketing, tracking fitness and sport activities are the types of functions that will drive sales of the new devices, the company said.

Juniper predicts the explosion in sales will be propelled by the entrance into the market of large players like Samsung and Apple.

Samsung is due to unveil its smartwatch in a couple of weeks time, and it has been widely speculated that Apple is working on a similar device. Their entrance into the market, the report predicts, will act as a catalyst for other competitors to enter the space, by lending weight to the devices potential to become a valuable product.

The report does, however, warn that smartwatches will only appeal to niche groups and therefore the market will be limited.

Smartwatches are divided into two categories, dashboard/console and multi-function.

The study concludes that multi-function devices will be considered premium products, and this will differentiate them from smartwatch products already on the market, like Sony's Smart Watch and the Pebble. As a result, prices for multi-function devices will remain steady, because it will be possible to divide them into different price bands.

The study also found that development of the smartwatch market will generate significant opportunities for app-developers and accessory manufacturers.