Innovation in the sports industry is constantly evolving, with activity driven by digital advancements, high-level of social media interactions, broad appeal for immersive sports experience, and fan engagement, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics, cloud, data analytics, wearable tech and many more. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the sports industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Sports: Exercise gamification.
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.
20+ innovations will shape the sports industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the sports industry using innovation intensity models built on over 101,000 patents, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, portable dockable scoring machines, aural feedback type sporting equipment, and activity tracking camera network are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Adjustable weight putters, surf simulators, and polyurethane sports accessories are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are sport bats and sport rackets, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the sports industry
Exercise gamification is a key innovation area in sports
Exercise gamification allows users to play games during exercise through game-oriented fitness applications. Fitness products are gamified to enhance the fitness experience and help the user in reaching their desired goal.
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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of exercise gamification.
Key players in exercise gamification – a disruptive innovation in the sports 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 exercise gamification
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Nike is one of the leading patent filers in exercise gamification in sports. Some other key patent filers in the retailing industry include adidas and Lululemon Athletica. Exercise gamification is one of the accelerating innovation spheres of cloud-based technology, where adoption is steadily increasing.
In terms of application diversity, Whoop & FitStar Labs leads the pack. ROHM and Lululemon Athletica stand in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Amer Sports holds the top position, followed by Renovia and Nike.
The concept of fitness gamification is widely gaining acceptance as gamifying exercises positively influence more engagement. Fitness connected with rewards improves user motivation, bolsters mental health and virtual-based exercises can even benefit people with a variety of health conditions. Exercise gamifications include various app-based workouts, fitness equipment, exergaming consoles, and even corelated (non-digital) methods.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports.