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 Robotics in Medical Devices: Muscle stimulation devices. 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, HUDs for surgical navigation, robotic biopsy endoscope, and camera-guided surgical robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Robotic exoskeleton, surgical robots, and robotic catheters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are robotic lower limb rehabilitation and microfluidic lab-on-a-chip, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the medical devices industry

Muscle stimulation devices is a key innovation area in robotics

Muscle stimulation devices manage chronic and intractable pain, post-traumatic pain, and acute post-surgical pain. It helps improve the blood supply around the wound to stimulate the healing process and in relaxing muscle spasms, preventing and delaying disuse atrophy, maintaining and increasing range of motion, and muscle rehabilitation. These simulators are advantageous as they generate muscle contractions that can be quick and frequent without stressing the central nervous system (CNS), and they bypass the noise and work directly on the muscle to get a complete contraction.

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 10 companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of muscle stimulation devices.

Key players in muscle stimulation devices – 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 muscle stimulation devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Enovis 23 Unlock company profile
Nasophlex 14 Unlock company profile
Ceragem 10 Unlock company profile
Taewoong Medical 9 Unlock company profile
Pohlig 8 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 7 Unlock company profile
TrueRelief 6 Unlock company profile
Acumedical 6 Unlock company profile
Viol 5 Unlock company profile
Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Enovis is the leading patent filer in the field of muscle stimulation devices. Some other leading patent filers include Nasophlex and Ceragem.

In terms of application diversity, Vivol leads the pack, followed by Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply and Taewoong Medical. By means of geographic reach, Ceragem holds the top position, followed by Pohlig and Taewoong Medical in the second and third spots, respectively.

Advancements in integrating new technologies in muscle stimulators can expand their applications. The integration of robotics in muscle stimulators, such as hand wearable devices, may further improve neuromuscular coordination, as per the patient’s daily activities.

To further understand how robotics is disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Medical (2021).

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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.