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 Innovation in Medical Devices: Endoscopic imaging.

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, neurostimulation therapy, smart physiotherapy devices, and real-time IR thermographic imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Precision radiotherapy, electric atomisers, and bio-active prosthesis coating are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bioresorbable stent coating and cryogenic tissue treatment, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Endoscopic imaging is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves inserting a long, thin tube straight into the body through mouth or anus to examine an internal organ or tissue with precision. Endoscopy imaging includes endoscopes connected to a digital imaging device for clear screen visibility and video recording. Endoscopy imaging, in addition to biopsy, allows for the detection of abnormal growth of cells that helps in the early detection of 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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of endoscopic imaging.

Key players in endoscopic imaging – 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 endoscopic imaging

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Olympus 1522 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 529 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 368 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 263 Unlock company profile
Hoya 156 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 86 Unlock company profile
KARL STORZ 62 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 36 Unlock company profile
Cosmo Pharmaceuticals 35 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 32 Unlock company profile
Stryker 29 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 25 Unlock company profile
Dental Monitoring 24 Unlock company profile
Dental Smartmirror 24 Unlock company profile
Canon 23 Unlock company profile
Techtronic Industries 21 Unlock company profile
Modulim 20 Unlock company profile
3M 19 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 18 Unlock company profile
Terumo 18 Unlock company profile
Asensus Surgical 18 Unlock company profile
NEC 17 Unlock company profile
AI Medical Service 16 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 16 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen 15 Unlock company profile
Steris 15 Unlock company profile
CapsoVision 15 Unlock company profile
Will Semiconductor 15 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 14 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 13 Unlock company profile
Arthrex 12 Unlock company profile
Theator 11 Unlock company profile
Ultradent Products 11 Unlock company profile
Sharp 10 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 10 Unlock company profile
IntroMedic 9 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 9 Unlock company profile
Ambu 8 Unlock company profile
Planmeca 8 Unlock company profile
General Electric 8 Unlock company profile
270 Surgical 7 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 7 Unlock company profile
ULab Systems 7 Unlock company profile
Xenocor 7 Unlock company profile
bioPmed 6 Unlock company profile
Siemens 6 Unlock company profile
Getinge 6 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
EndoVigilant 5 Unlock company profile
Medicaroid 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Olympus is one of the leading patent filers in endoscopic imaging. Some other leading patent filers include Fujifilm Holdings and Johnson & Johnson.

In terms of application diversity, 3M leads the pack, followed by Dental Monitoring and Tencent Holdings. By means of geographic reach, Planmeca holds the top position, followed by Asensus Surgical and AI Medical Service in the second and third spots, respectively.

The future of endoscopy involves the integration of technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics. It will support healthcare professionals in decision-making in real time. The development of robotic endoscopy may become a solution for patients who cannot accept traditional endoscopy methods. However, the challenge would be maintaining a balance between new technologies and the quality of routine practice.

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