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: Cellular imaging techniques.

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

Cellular imaging techniques is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Cellular imaging techniques are methods that enable the identification and study of cellular organelles and macromolecules using light-based or electron-based microscopes. Several methods of cellular imaging techniques include phase-contrast microscopy, fluorescent imaging, brightfield microscopy, confocal microscopy, 4D live-cell imaging, automated microscopy, etc. The technique is very useful in biological, medical, and pharmaceutical research.

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 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of cellular imaging techniques.

Key players in cellular imaging techniques – 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 cellular imaging techniques

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Heartflow 247 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 100 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 72 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 68 Unlock company profile
Magic Leap 48 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 36 Unlock company profile
ARC Devices 34 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 33 Unlock company profile
Danaher 33 Unlock company profile
Siemens 33 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 32 Unlock company profile
Theator 30 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 28 Unlock company profile
Olympus 25 Unlock company profile
OrCam Technologies 25 Unlock company profile
Dental Monitoring 25 Unlock company profile
Venus Concept 25 Unlock company profile
NEC 24 Unlock company profile
Oracle 19 Unlock company profile
Transmural Biotech 18 Unlock company profile
Cosmo Pharmaceuticals 17 Unlock company profile
MikroScan Technologies 17 Unlock company profile
Tencent Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
ATSR 14 Unlock company profile
Equashield Medical 14 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 14 Unlock company profile
Vitrolife 13 Unlock company profile
Curemetrix 13 Unlock company profile
Agilent Technologies 13 Unlock company profile
Novartis 13 Unlock company profile
RDI Technologies 12 Unlock company profile
Canon 11 Unlock company profile
Tata Sons 11 Unlock company profile
NantWorks 10 Unlock company profile
Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research 10 Unlock company profile
Nant Holdings Ip 10 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 9 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
Paige.AI 8 Unlock company profile
Actim 8 Unlock company profile
Applied Materials 7 Unlock company profile
Light AI 7 Unlock company profile
Proscia 7 Unlock company profile
Sysmex 7 Unlock company profile
Neuroanalytics 7 Unlock company profile
Deciphex 7 Unlock company profile
VisionHealth 7 Unlock company profile
Darmiyan 7 Unlock company profile
4D Path 7 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 7 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Heartflow is the leading patent filer in the cellular imaging techniques market. Some other leading patent filers include Microsoft and F.Hoffmann-La Roche.

In terms of application diversity, Light AI leads the pack, followed by Theator and Magic Leap. By means of geographic reach, ATSR held the top position, followed by Furukawa and Transmural Biotech in second and third spots, respectively.

Cellular imaging tools are crucial in cell biology labs because they provide an overview of the cellular organelles and reveal novel therapeutic approaches. The technology has led the path for improved medication delivery systems, antibiotics, and cancer treatments. Fluorescence microscopy cell imaging proved to be an effective technique for drug screening and visualisation. There is still much to learn about stem cells and other cell regeneration.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in Healthcare - 2021.


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.