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: Interactive surgical systems. 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

Interactive surgical systems is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Interactive surgical systems are designed to work around the limitations still present in minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures by improving surgeon accuracy and facilitating difficult procedures. These are passive devices controlled by a surgeon, and typically consist of a patient side cart, a surgeon console, and a vision system.

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 interactive surgical systems.

Key players in interactive surgical systems – 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 interactive surgical systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 374 Unlock company profile
Stryker 104 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 88 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 56 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 42 Unlock company profile
Globus Medical 41 Unlock company profile
Olympus 40 Unlock company profile
Kardium 36 Unlock company profile
Siemens 31 Unlock company profile
Alcon 31 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 25 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 21 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 18 Unlock company profile
Novartis 15 Unlock company profile
Asensus Surgical 15 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 13 Unlock company profile
Danaher 12 Unlock company profile
SOFAR 11 Unlock company profile
Elbit Systems 10 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 9 Unlock company profile
Titan Medical 8 Unlock company profile
NZ Technologies 8 Unlock company profile
Surgalign Holdings 8 Unlock company profile
ImmersiveTouch 8 Unlock company profile
Cleveland Clinic Foundation 7 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 7 Unlock company profile
SRI International 7 Unlock company profile
Merit Medical Systems 6 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
General Electric 6 Unlock company profile
Arspectra 5 Unlock company profile
AT&T 5 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 5 Unlock company profile
InterDigital 5 Unlock company profile
ERBE Elektromedizin 5 Unlock company profile
Osterhout Group 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the field of Interactive surgical system. Some other key patent filers in the field include Stryker, Intuitive Surgical, Medtronic, and Magic Leap.

In terms of application diversity, General Electric leads the pack, followed by Carl Zeiss Stiftung and Osterhout Group. By means of geographic reach, SOFAR held the top position, followed by Cleveland Clinic and Stryker in the second and third spots, respectively.

This market will see growth as the interactive surgical systems allow doctors to carry out complex surgeries with a higher degree of accuracy, control, and flexibility thus providing an edge over traditional surgery. The demand for interactive surgical systems is also growing due to the growing preference for minimally invasive procedures. However, challenges such as high cost and lack of sufficient expertise should be addressed.

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.