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 Cloud in Medical Devices: HUDs for surgical navigation.

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, CT angiography analysis automation, interactive nutrition monitoring and management, and clinical trials management systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Sensor integrated prosthesis, remote health monitoring networks, and AR/VR medical image visualisation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is the computer assisted surgeries, which is now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for cloud in the medical devices industry 

HUDs for surgical navigation is a key innovation area in cloud

Also known as augmented reality, heads-up displays (HUDs) enable surgeons to visualise navigation information by projecting pre and intraoperative imaging simultaneously on a screen in front of them, at multiple stages of the surgery. Given it provides surgeon free head motion and potentially more convenient body movement without compromising the quality of image, it is steadily replacing the conventional surgical microscope.

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 30 companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of HUDs for surgical navigation.

Key players in HUDs for surgical navigation – 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 HUDs for surgical navigation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Smith & Nephew 98 Unlock company profile
Stryker 81 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 60 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 46 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 43 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 30 Unlock company profile
OnPoint Medical Diagnostics 24 Unlock company profile
Vicarious Surgical 22 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 18 Unlock company profile
Aris MD 16 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 15 Unlock company profile
Siemens 13 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 13 Unlock company profile
Surgalign Holdings 10 Unlock company profile
Elbit Systems 9 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 9 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 8 Unlock company profile
Cleveland Clinic Foundation 7 Unlock company profile
Ivoclar Vivadent 7 Unlock company profile
Alcon 7 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 7 Unlock company profile
Augmedics 6 Unlock company profile
Taiwan Main Orthopaedics Biotechnology 6 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 6 Unlock company profile
Tietronix Software 6 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 5 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 5 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 5 Unlock company profile
Novartis 5 Unlock company profile
Osterhout Group 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Smith & Nephew is one of the leading patent filers in the field of HUDs for surgical navigation. Some other key patent filers in the field include Stryker Corp and Magic Leap.

In terms of application diversity, Magic Leap leads the pack, followed by OnPoint Medical Diagnostics and Surgical Theater. By means of geographic reach, Smith & Nephew holds the top position, followed by Cleveland Clinic and Stryker in the second and third spots, respectively.

HUDs for the surgical navigation field are constantly changing and evolving as one of the new technological advances, that will lead to improved outcomes, patient safety and ergonomics. Increasing healthcare expenditure and the need for cutting-edge technologies to aid the development of novel therapies and diagnostics have fuelled the need for this technology in the healthcare industry. As technology advances, the barriers to its widespread use in healthcare are beginning to fall.

To further understand how Cloud is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cloud Computing 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.