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, and 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 Innovation in Healthcare: Ambulatory assistance 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. 

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, specimen collection devices, ultrasound imaging system, and automated laboratory systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Biological sampling devices, endoscopic ultrasound tomography, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are doppler ultrasound imaging and computer tomography (CT) -guided surgery, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for the healthcare industry 

Ambulatory assistance devices is a key innovation area in healthcare 

Ambulatory devices are devices that provide support, stability, and balance for users to be able to move from one point to another and require active participation of users during mobilisation.  

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 ambulatory assistance devices. 

Key players in ambulatory assistance devices – 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 ambulatory assistance devices

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 92 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 66 Unlock company profile
Ekso Bionics Holdings 24 Unlock company profile
Gorbel 18 Unlock company profile
Roam Robotics 17 Unlock company profile
Baxter International 16 Unlock company profile
Cyberdyne 15 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 11 Unlock company profile
NEC 10 Unlock company profile
EW Healthcare Partners 10 Unlock company profile
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary 9 Unlock company profile
Suncall 8 Unlock company profile
ExoAtlet Global 8 Unlock company profile
OPUM Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
Motorika 7 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 6 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 5 Unlock company profile
Trexo Robotics 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor and Samsung Group are the leading patent filers in the ambulatory assistance devices. Some other leading patent filers include Esko Bionics and Gorbel.  

In terms of application diversity, Hyundai Motor and Cyberdyne lead, followed by Baxter International and OPUM Technologies. With regards to geographic reach, EW Healthcare Partners leads the pack, followed by ExoAtlet Global and Gorbel

Ambulatory assistance devices promote greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were previously unable to do or had significant difficulty performing by improving or changing methods of interacting with the technology required to perform such tasks. Maintaining a balance between the goal of ambulation and the increased risk of fall-related injuries associated with the use of assistive devices should be a concern for health care providers. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on 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.