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, and 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 Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality in Medical Devices: AR/VR medical image visualization

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. 

AR/VR medical image visualisation is a key innovation area in augmented reality/virtual reality 

Medical images can be visualised in an augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) environment. Doctors can view and evaluate medical images in these settings in a more interactive manner. 

VR and AR are being applied in healthcare for the advanced representation of complex anatomy in medical imaging and procedural guidance. A person’s field of view is enhanced by augmented reality by fusing images there. These techniques for advanced image visualisation are thought to enhance surgical planning, provide better intraoperative guidance, and ultimately improve patient care by increasing understanding of anatomy and surgical pathology. 

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 90+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AR/VR medical image visualisation. 

Key players in AR/VR medical image visualisation – 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 AR/VR medical image visualization

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Koninklijke Philips 533 Unlock company profile
Siemens 322 Unlock company profile
Heartflow 282 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 200 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 183 Unlock company profile
Canon 173 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 127 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 125 Unlock company profile
Stryker 107 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 105 Unlock company profile
General Electric 94 Unlock company profile
Hologic 67 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 55 Unlock company profile
Toshiba Medical Systems 51 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 49 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 47 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 44 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 39 Unlock company profile
Planmeca 33 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 32 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 28 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 28 Unlock company profile
HCA Healthcare 26 Unlock company profile
OnPoint Medical Diagnostics 24 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare 24 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 22 Unlock company profile
Raytheon Technologies 21 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 19 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 19 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 19 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 17 Unlock company profile
Pro Medicus 17 Unlock company profile
Episurf Medical 16 Unlock company profile
Ziosoft 16 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 16 Unlock company profile
PHC Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
NuVasive 14 Unlock company profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 13 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 13 Unlock company profile
DOG Microsystems 13 Unlock company profile
NantMobile 12 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 11 Unlock company profile
Olympus 11 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 11 Unlock company profile
Agfa-Gevaert 11 Unlock company profile
Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics 10 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 10 Unlock company profile
adidas 10 Unlock company profile
ResMed 9 Unlock company profile
Neocis 9 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Koninklijke Philips and Siemens are two of the leading patent filers in AR/VR medical image visualisation. Some other leading patent filers include Heartflow, Johnson & Johnson, Fujifilm Holdings, Canon and Samsung Group

In terms of application diversity, ResMed leads, followed by Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson. With regards to geographic reach, DOG Microsystems leads, followed by Stryker and HCA Healthcare

Digital reality (AR/VR) technologies, which are still in their development, are assisting healthcare professionals in making crucial decisions and saving lives. These innovations could reduce the overall cost of healthcare. Considering this possibility, diagnostic practice for viewing MRI and CT scans may undergo a revolution in the field of healthcare. AR/VR technologies have the potential to significantly alter many traditional healthcare operations and branches, including radiology, oncology, training, and more. 

To further understand how augmented reality is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Augmented Reality in Medical Devices

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.