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: AR/VR medical imaging 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 

AR/VR medical imaging interfaces is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence 

AR/VR supported medical imaging can be more easily accessed or displayed in three-dimensional space to improve guidance during medical procedures by allowing the physician to see the images from a different perspective. This is possible with augmented or mixed reality. Additionally, AR/VR also increases the resolution of images to make them clearer and more interactive for examination. 

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 healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of AR/VR medical imaging interfaces. 

Key players in AR/VR medical imaging 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 AR/VR medical imaging interfaces

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Stryker 73 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 68 Unlock company profile
Heartflow 58 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 47 Unlock company profile
Hologic 43 Unlock company profile
Medtronic 38 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 31 Unlock company profile
Boston Scientific 27 Unlock company profile
Surgical Theater 22 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 22 Unlock company profile
Siemens 21 Unlock company profile
Pro Medicus 15 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 15 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 13 Unlock company profile
Align Technology 10 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 10 Unlock company profile
adidas 10 Unlock company profile
General Electric 8 Unlock company profile
NovaRad 8 Unlock company profile
BrainLAB 7 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 6 Unlock company profile
Dentsply Sirona 6 Unlock company profile
Shanghai United Imaging Intelligence 5 Unlock company profile
Halliburton 5 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile
Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics 5 Unlock company profile
Agfa-Gevaert 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Stryker, Koninklijke Philips, and Heartflow are the leading patent filers in the AI AR/VR medical imaging interfaces. Some other leading patent filers include Magic Leap and Hologic

In terms of application diversity, Align Technology and Dentsply Sirona lead, followed by Medtronic. With regards to geographic reach, Stryker leads, followed by Dentsply Sirona and Halliburton

AR and VR medical imaging interfaces have the potential to reduce overall healthcare costs. It is expected that they will help the healthcare industry in revolutionising the way MRI and CT images are viewed in diagnostic practices. 

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.