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: Wearable fitness monitors.

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

Wearable fitness monitors is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Wearable fitness monitor technology is a kind of electronic device that is intended to be worn on the user's body, as a medical device or an accessory. Some wearables work without direct user engagement, although most are worn or affixed to clothing. Some wearables use optical sensors to assess heart rate oscillations, beats per minute during sleep, blood pressure, calorie intake, or glucose levels in real-time and remotely.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established healthcare companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of wearable fitness monitors.

Key players in wearable fitness monitors – 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 wearable fitness monitors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sony Group 240 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 94 Unlock company profile
NIKE 74 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 51 Unlock company profile
Apple 36 Unlock company profile
LG 32 Unlock company profile
Bayer 32 Unlock company profile
Intel 31 Unlock company profile
Proxy 29 Unlock company profile
Siemens 29 Unlock company profile
PHC Holdings 29 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 26 Unlock company profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 24 Unlock company profile
Aliphcom 21 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 18 Unlock company profile
Amer Sports 16 Unlock company profile
Movano 16 Unlock company profile
Polar Electro 15 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 14 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 13 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 13 Unlock company profile
Micro Mobio 12 Unlock company profile
Carl Data Solutions 12 Unlock company profile
DexCom 11 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 11 Unlock company profile
Envista Holdings 10 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 9 Unlock company profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 8 Unlock company profile
GSK Consumer Healthcare 7 Unlock company profile
Varex Imaging 7 Unlock company profile
Legend Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
Stryker 6 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
270 Vision 5 Unlock company profile
Dragerwerk 5 Unlock company profile
Whoop 5 Unlock company profile
Quanta Computer 5 Unlock company profile
Huizhou TCL Mobile Communication 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sony Group is one of the leading patent filers in the field of wearable fitness monitors. Some other key patent filers in the field include Samsung Group and NIKE.

In terms of application diversity, NIKE leads the pack, followed by DexCom and Carl Data Solutions. By means of geographic reach, Bayer holds the top position, followed by Aliphcom and GSK Consumer Healthcare in second and third spots, respectively.

Wearable technology is now being used in a variety of contexts, from healthcare including diabetes, heart-associated diseases, Covid-19-based health monitors, as well as navigation systems involving the incorporation of recent breakthroughs in AI technology. The fitness business is expanding at an exponential rate, both in terms of individuals who regularly frequent gyms and those who use personal trainers or attend group sessions. As a result, wearables are unlikely to ever replace traditional fitness instructors, but there's still plenty of room for the two sides to collaborate and complement each other.

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