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 Innovation in Medical Devices: Real-time IR thermographic 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

Real-time IR thermographic imaging is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

Infrared thermographic imaging is a fast, non-contact, and a non-invasive imaging modality that uses infrared energy to display an image of temperature distribution. Thermographic IR imaging is superior to other conventional imaging techniques as it provides an efficient analysis of physiological functions in real-time and at a low cost, without any damaging radiations.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of real-time IR thermographic imaging.

Key players in real-time IR thermographic 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 real-time IR thermographic imaging

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Magic Leap 115 Unlock company profile
ARC Devices 99 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 93 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 87 Unlock company profile
Stryker 76 Unlock company profile
Hologic 43 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 37 Unlock company profile
Canon 33 Unlock company profile
Dental Smartmirror 24 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 21 Unlock company profile
MyFiziq 21 Unlock company profile
Olympus 21 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 20 Unlock company profile
Oracle 20 Unlock company profile
DexCom 19 Unlock company profile
Procter & Gamble 17 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 16 Unlock company profile
Kinpo Electronics 15 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 13 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 13 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 11 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 9 Unlock company profile
Daikin Industries 9 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 9 Unlock company profile
Intuitive Surgical 9 Unlock company profile
Chang Gung Memorial Foundation 9 Unlock company profile
Siemens 9 Unlock company profile
Neurophet 8 Unlock company profile
Theator 7 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 7 Unlock company profile
VisionHealth 7 Unlock company profile
Fresenius 7 Unlock company profile
Baxter International 6 Unlock company profile
OrCam Technologies 6 Unlock company profile
Body Vision Medical 6 Unlock company profile
NEC 6 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 6 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 6 Unlock company profile
Synaptive Medical 6 Unlock company profile
Advanced Human Imaging 5 Unlock company profile
Accuray 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Magic Leap and ARC Devices are two of the leading patent filers in Real-Time IR Thermographic Imaging. Some other leading patent filers include Microsoft, Koninklijke Philips, Stryker, and Hologic.

In terms of application diversity, Stryker leads the pack, followed by Magic Leap and OrCam Technologies. By means of geographic reach, Stryker holds the top position, followed by Neurophet and MyFiziq in second and third spots, respectively.

Advances in imaging technology have opened multiple opportunities for precise measurements of local thermal abnormalities. Reliable measurements have a significant impact on the diagnosis and interpretation of pathophysiological conditions. Real-time IR thermographic imaging aids in clinical evaluation and detection of complex neurological, vascular and urological disorders and problems in real time, that further enables instant feedback and treatment.

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.