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 Robotics in Medical Devices: Camera guided surgical robots.

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, HUDs for surgical navigation, robotic biopsy endoscope, and camera-guided surgical robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic exoskeleton, surgical robots, and robotic catheters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are robotic lower limb rehabilitation and microfluidic lab-on-a-chip, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the medical devices industry

Camera-guided surgical robots is a key innovation area in robotics

The camera-guided surgical robots use high-definition cameras that offer a magnified view of the surgical site. They are used to perform minimally invasive surgeries as they require a tiny incision to insert a camera and robotic tools.  

Minimally invasive surgery can decrease damage to surrounding healthy tissues, minimising the need for pain medication, and shortening the recovery time for patients. Image-guided treatments employing robots help reduce fatigue during protracted surgeries by allowing the surgeon to execute the surgery while sitting.

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 camera-guided surgical robots.

Key players in camera-guided surgical robots – 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 camera guided surgical robots

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Intuitive Surgical 332 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 91 Unlock company profile
Olympus 60 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 32 Unlock company profile
Koh Young Technology 12 Unlock company profile
Siemens 11 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 11 Unlock company profile
Titan Medical 10 Unlock company profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile
Stryker 9 Unlock company profile
Wink Robotics 7 Unlock company profile
Think Surgical 6 Unlock company profile
Beijing Shurui Technology 5 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock company profile
Midea Holding 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Intuitive Surgical is one of the leading patent filers in the field of camera-guided surgical robot. Some other key patent filers in the field include Johnson & Johnson and Olympus.

In terms of application diversity, Samsung Group leads the pack, followed by Hitachi and Sony Group. By means of geographic reach, Stryker holds the top position, followed by Think Surgical and Wink Robotics in second and third spots, respectively.

Over the next few years, camera-guided surgical robots will take a significant place in the healthcare industry. Once robotic equipment becomes popular and dependable, surgery can be performed remotely allowing considerably more people to have access to timely healthcare.

To further understand how robotics is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Medical (2021).

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.