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: Smart physiotherapy devices.

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

Smart physiotherapy devices refer to smart, portable devices with the ability for real time monitoring of patient data and making necessary adjustments/customisations. Physiotherapy smart connected devices include smart walkers, smart crutches, force platforms, and natural user interface devices characterised by different sensing technologies including piezoresistive force sensors and microwave radars. The technology replaces the traditional method as it facilitates cost-effective physiotherapy treatment with accurate monitoring.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart physiotherapy devices.

Key players in smart physiotherapy 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 smart physiotherapy devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Baxter International 131 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 100 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 40 Unlock company profile
Stryker 31 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 28 Unlock company profile
Family Inada 25 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 22 Unlock company profile
ROM Technologies 15 Unlock company profile
Mortara Instrument 14 Unlock company profile
Bodyfriend 13 Unlock company profile
Apollo Neuroscience 11 Unlock company profile
EW Healthcare Partners 10 Unlock company profile
Radial Medical 10 Unlock company profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 10 Unlock company profile
Sunlighten 9 Unlock company profile
LG 9 Unlock company profile
Tactile Systems Technology 9 Unlock company profile
Parker Hannifin 8 Unlock company profile
Nocira 7 Unlock company profile
Otto Bock Holding 6 Unlock company profile
Xiaomi 5 Unlock company profile
Sommetrics 5 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 5 Unlock company profile
Trexo Robotics 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile
Sichuan Xukang Medical Electrical Equipment 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Baxter International is one of the leading patent filers in the field of smart physiotherapy devices. Some other key patent filers in the field include Asahi Kasei and Koninklijke Philips.

In terms of application diversity, ROM Technologies leads the pack, followed by Otto Back Holding and Baxter International. By means of geographic reach, EW Healthcare Partners holds the top position, followed by Xiaomi and Family Inada in the second and third spots, respectively.

Smart physiotherapy devices are dominating the current physiotherapy treatment as they allow remote sensing to serve as a part of physical rehabilitation frameworks with real-time data monitoring in IoT. The usage of smart physiotherapy devices will increase with growing health awareness and rise in the number of trauma cases.

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.