The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Medical Devices: 3D Endoscopy. Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, AI-assisted radiology, motion artefact analysis, and treatment evaluation models are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. MRI image smoothing, AI-assisted EHR/EMR, and AI-assisted CT imaging are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are computer-assisted surgeries and 3D endoscopy, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the medical devices industry

3D endoscopy is an imaging technique that aids the surgeon in providing a 3D picture of organs being examined, typically during laparoscopy, thus providing additional information of depth, anatomical details and orientation, which aids diagnosis, more accurate treatment and better recovery rates. Artificial intelligence can aid image interpretation but can also help perform 3D surface measurements which are necessary for diagnosing and staging cancers.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of 3D endoscopy.

Key players in 3D endoscopy – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to 3D endoscopy

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Olympus 196 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 179 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 89 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 76 Unlock company profile
KARL STORZ 37 Unlock company profile
Ultradent Products 27 Unlock company profile
Steris 12 Unlock company profile
ConMed 9 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
Activ Surgical 7 Unlock company profile
Blazejewski MEDI-TECH 7 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 6 Unlock company profile
Titan Medical 5 Unlock company profile
Canon 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Olympus is the lead patent filer in 3D-endoscopy followed by Johnson & Johnson and Sony Group.

By means of geographic reach, Intuitive Surgical held the top position, followed by Johnson & Johnson and Sony Group. In terms of Application Diversity, Sony Group leads, followed by Activ Surgical and Johnson & Johnson.

3D endoscopy is already seeing widespread use, as it supports trends towards more minimally invasive or keyhole surgery, which has seen patient recovery times fall and outcomes improve. As AI transitions from the theoretical world into real world clinical usage, the uptake of 3D endoscopy will accelerate, due to the expected step change in improvements in patient outcomes. Reduced readmission rates are also an incentive for hospitals seeking to maximise on reimbursement.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.