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 of 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 Internet of Things in Medical Devices: Sensor assisted surgical care.

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, ingestible sensors, wireless gastric stimulation devices, and remote nerve stimulation devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Dosage monitoring inhalators, programmable infusion pumps, and athletic monitoring sensors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are blood glucose sensors and medical emergency response systems, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the medical devices industry

Sensor assisted surgical care is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Sensors are widely used in robot-assisted surgeries to analyse and monitor a varying array of parameters such as position tracking, the force being applied on a patient by an instrument, and motion control. Sensors used in surgical care include tactile force sensors, gyroscopes, bubble sensors, accelerometers, torque sensors, occlusion sensors, haptic sensors, and others. With their noteworthy accuracy and reliability, sensor-assisted surgical care technology is gradually replacing the conventional methods of tactile feedback and visual assessment.

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 110+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of sensor assisted surgical care.

Key players in sensor assisted surgical care – 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 sensor-assisted surgical care

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson & Johnson 970 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 251 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 215 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 187 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 157 Unlock company profile
Stryker 125 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 95 Unlock company profile
Olympus 76 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 48 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 38 Unlock company profile
Smith & Nephew 35 Unlock company profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 35 Unlock company profile
Consensus Orthopedics 32 Unlock company profile
Baxter International 30 Unlock company profile
Implantica Patent 29 Unlock company profile
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 29 Unlock company profile
Medici Technologies 28 Unlock company profile
EQT 27 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 27 Unlock company profile
Valencell 26 Unlock company profile
Apple 25 Unlock company profile
Milux Holding 22 Unlock company profile
Carl Data Solutions 21 Unlock company profile
Omron 20 Unlock company profile
Integra LifeSciences Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Endomagnetics 18 Unlock company profile
JointVue 18 Unlock company profile
Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies 16 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 15 Unlock company profile
Life Corp 15 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 14 Unlock company profile
Minerva Surgical 14 Unlock company profile
Siemens 14 Unlock company profile
Medinol 14 Unlock company profile
Abiomed 13 Unlock company profile
Adapttech 13 Unlock company profile
Autonomix Medical 13 Unlock company profile
LumiraDx 13 Unlock company profile
Shanghai MicroPort EP MedTech 12 Unlock company profile
Neofect 12 Unlock company profile
VitalConnect 12 Unlock company profile
Massachusetts General Hospital 12 Unlock company profile
Starkey Hearing Technologies 11 Unlock company profile
Pentland Group Holdings 11 Unlock company profile
ARC Devices 11 Unlock company profile
Neuronetics 11 Unlock company profile
RGB Medical Devices 11 Unlock company profile
Eurecat 11 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 11 Unlock company profile
Saranas 10 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Johnson & Johnson is one of the leading patent filers in the market for sensor-assisted surgical care. Some other key patent filers in the field include Koninklijke Philips, Abbott Laboratories, and Medtronic.

In terms of application diversity, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries leads the pack, followed by Toyota Motor and Life Corp. By means of geographic reach, Minerva Surgical held the top position, followed by Medinol and Massachusetts General Hospital in the second and third spots, respectively.

The last few years have seen a paradigm shift in robot-assisted surgeries with the advent and uptake of sensors. This technology not only delivers real-time data, but also enhances and optimises procedural efficiency, thereby reducing surgical costs and improving surgeons’ performance, and patient outcomes.

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.