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 Internet of Things in Healthcare: Smart inhalers. Buy the report here.

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, smart helmets, body temperature sensors, and software as a medical device (SaMD) are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart balloon catheters, point-of-care molecular diagnostics, and automated immunoassay analysers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are smart contact lenses and GPS integrated fitness monitors, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the healthcare industry

Smart inhalers is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Smart inhalers are equipped with sensors that attach to existing inhalers and record medicine administration. Because they are Bluetooth-enabled, they can be wirelessly paired with a smartphone, tablet, or computer to facilitate automatic data transfer from the smart inhaler. It integrates wireless connectivity with a mobile application, via Bluetooth. These devices are equipped with sensors that record information about each user, including the time, date, and position of the patient.

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart inhalers.

Key players in smart inhalers – 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 smart inhalers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 283 Unlock company profile
kaleo 90 Unlock company profile
Novartis 66 Unlock company profile
DexCom 66 Unlock company profile
Pneuma Respiratory 64 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 63 Unlock company profile
Massachusetts General Hospital 49 Unlock company profile
ResMed 47 Unlock company profile
AptarGroup 47 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 40 Unlock company profile
Syqe Medical 38 Unlock company profile
Cold Plasma Medical Technologies 36 Unlock company profile
Adherium 34 Unlock company profile
Eyenovia 30 Unlock company profile
E. Merck KG 28 Unlock company profile
Johnson & Johnson 25 Unlock company profile
British American Tobacco 25 Unlock company profile
JUUL Labs 25 Unlock company profile
GoFire 24 Unlock company profile
Plasmology4 24 Unlock company profile
Shl Medical 19 Unlock company profile
Carebay Europe 19 Unlock company profile
MannKind 17 Unlock company profile
AcelRx Pharmaceuticals 16 Unlock company profile
Gearbox 16 Unlock company profile
Pneumoflex Systems 15 Unlock company profile
Becton Dickinson and Co 15 Unlock company profile
Chiesi Farmaceutici 14 Unlock company profile
MediTuner 13 Unlock company profile
PARI Medical Holding 13 Unlock company profile
Resolve Digital Health 13 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 13 Unlock company profile
General Hospital 12 Unlock company profile
Dosentrx 11 Unlock company profile
HCmed Innovations 11 Unlock company profile
Science Group 11 Unlock company profile
Philip Morris International 11 Unlock company profile
Somniferum Labs 11 Unlock company profile
Imperial Brands 10 Unlock company profile
Cognita Labs 10 Unlock company profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 10 Unlock company profile 9 Unlock company profile
Heitkamp & Thumann KG 9 Unlock company profile
Mclean Hospital 9 Unlock company profile
MicroBase Technology 8 Unlock company profile
Japan Tobacco 8 Unlock company profile
Cipla 8 Unlock company profile
Bayer 8 Unlock company profile
Inspiro Medical 8 Unlock company profile
Novo Nordisk Foundation 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries is one of the leading patent filers in smart inhalers. Some other key patent filers in the field include Kaleo and Novartis.

In terms of application diversity, Cold Plasma Medical Technologies leads the pack, followed by Plasmaology4 and Koninklijke Philips. By means of geographic reach, Massachusetts General Hospital holds the top position, followed by Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and E. Merck in second and third spots, respectively.

The use of smart inhalers has the potential to reduce the cost of providing specialised medical treatment in underserved areas. In the future, smart inhalers will be adapted to meet the specific requirements of individual patients and the healthcare system, maximising their usefulness. Smart inhalers may improve the quality of life for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by facilitating more convenient and efficient disease management.

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the healthcare industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare.

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.