The healthcare industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by telemedicine, real-time diagnostics, smart hospitals and access to digital therapies, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), robotics and data management practices. In the last three years alone, there have been over 106,000 patents filed and granted in the healthcare industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: AI-enabled wearable interfaces

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. 

200+ innovations will shape the healthcare industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the healthcare industry using innovation intensity models built on over 443,000 patents, there are 200+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, drug delivery device security, microscopic image analysis models, and cellular imaging techniques are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart balloon catheters, automated immunoassay analysers, and AI-assisted MRI are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are smart fitness training system and non-invasive physiological monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry 

AI-enabled wearable interfaces is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence 

Wearable technology is a blanket term for electronic devices that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory (like a Fitbit or smartwatch or a pair of glasses) or as part of the material used in clothing (such as sportswear that measures biometrics). They are intended to gather users’ data on personal health and exercise, which can be sent to a doctor or other healthcare professional in real time. 

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 healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AI-enabled wearable interfaces. 

Key players in AI-enabled wearable interfaces – a disruptive innovation in the healthcare 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 AI-enabled wearable interfaces

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Enlitic 93 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 93 Unlock company profile
Stryker 71 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 45 Unlock company profile
NIKE 40 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 39 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 19 Unlock company profile
InnerEye 14 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 11 Unlock company profile
Hologic 9 Unlock company profile
Intel 8 Unlock company profile
Wacom 8 Unlock company profile
CEA 8 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence 5 Unlock company profile
Meta Platforms 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Microsoft and Enlitic are the leading patent filers in the AI-enabled wearable interfaces. Some other leading patent filers include Stryker and Magic Leap

In terms of application diversity, Stryker leads the pack, followed by Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence, Intel and Boston Scientific. With regards to geographic reach, Stryker held the top position, followed by NIKE and Wacom. 

Smartwatches are the largest and fastest-growing category of the wearable technology market over the projection period, according to research conducted in-house by GlobalData. Fitness trackers are the second-largest segment. By using wearable technologies, hospitals and clinics can reap benefits across a variety of levels and functions. Wearable technology facilitates patient participation and promotes proactive healthcare in the earliest phases, prior to disease progression. It has the potential to assist healthcare practitioners tremendously. For a more accurate diagnosis, medical professionals can obtain a better awareness of the difficulties affecting their patients. 

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare. 


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.