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 digitalization. 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: Wearable physiological sensors.

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 

Wearable physiological sensor is a key innovation area in Internet of Things 

Wearable physiological sensors are used to track the physiological parameters of patients in remote settings. These devices are typically embedded into the fabric of the individuals’ clothing or on their bodies. Sensors are categorized depending on their therapeutic application of interest. For instance, sensor technologies such as weight management and activity tracking can be used for disease prevention and health maintenance. Wearable sensors can be of various types, such as accelerometers, magnetometers, pedometers, and more. 

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 wearable physiological sensors. 

Key players in wearable physiological sensors – 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 wearable physiological sensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Samsung Group 289 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 214 Unlock company profile
Omron 150 Unlock company profile
Apple 122 Unlock company profile
NIKE 122 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 93 Unlock company profile
LG 83 Unlock company profile
Stryker 62 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 58 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 53 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 50 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 48 Unlock company profile
Ekso Bionics Holdings 43 Unlock company profile
Intel 40 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 38 Unlock company profile
adidas 37 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 36 Unlock company profile
Whoop 32 Unlock company profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 32 Unlock company profile
Life Corp 31 Unlock company profile
Proxy 30 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 28 Unlock company profile
Movano 26 Unlock company profile
DexCom 24 Unlock company profile
Polar Electro 22 Unlock company profile
Vibrant 21 Unlock company profile
HealthWatch 21 Unlock company profile
Cyberdyne 20 Unlock company profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 18 Unlock company profile
Air Liquide 17 Unlock company profile
Sympara Medical 17 Unlock company profile
Aliphcom 16 Unlock company profile
EW Healthcare Partners 15 Unlock company profile
Pison Technology 14 Unlock company profile
Sotera Wireless 14 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 13 Unlock company profile
Somne 13 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 13 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 13 Unlock company profile
GSK Consumer Healthcare 12 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 11 Unlock company profile
Oura Health 11 Unlock company profile
TritonWear 11 Unlock company profile
Savvysherpa 11 Unlock company profile
Cardinal Health 11 Unlock company profile
Ventrk 11 Unlock company profile
Family Inada 11 Unlock company profile
DNAnudge 10 Unlock company profile
Space Bio-Laboratories 10 Unlock company profile
Radial Medical 10 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Samsung Group is one of the leading patent filers in the field of wearable physiological sensors. Some other key patent filers in the field include Asahi Kasei, Omron, NIKE and Apple

In terms of application diversity, TritonWear leads the pack, followed by adidas and HealthWatch, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Omron Tateisi Electronics holds the top position, followed by NIKE and Asahi Kasei in the second and third spots, respectively. 

The market for wearables has been growing significantly in the medical market over the past several years and is in the middle of a period of technological advancement in the healthcare industry. The demand for wearable physiological sensors is driven by a larger need for round-the-clock monitoring, and a growing interest in gathering health data.  

The requirement for wearable sensors is expected to increase with the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases around the world and the push towards patient health tracking outside of hospitals.   

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.