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, Internet of Things (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 Internet of Things in Sports: Environmental sensors. 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.

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, neurostimulation exercisers is a disruptive technology that is in the early stage of application and should be tracked closely. Environmental sensors, performance monitoring sports equipment, and vitals monitoring exercisers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are outdoor sporting navigation systems and remote athletic performance monitoring, which are now well established in the industry. 

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

Environmental sensors a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Environmental sensors measure the environmental conditions of a data centre, such as the temperature and humidity. These sensors play a critical role in analysing the environmental conditions, highlighting trends, and making data-driven strategic decisions. Information collected through these sensors can be tested, recorded and stored for detailed evaluation. The scope of environmental monitoring through sensors is widespread mainly involving air, temperature, humidity, pressure, vibration, water, and others.

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 100 companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of environmental sensors.

Key players in environmental sensors – 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 environmental sensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 437 Unlock company profile
adidas 124 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 77 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 66 Unlock company profile
Golfzon (Japan) 61 Unlock company profile
iFIT Health & Fitness 54 Unlock company profile
Amer Sports 54 Unlock company profile
Karsten Manufacturing 49 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 49 Unlock company profile
Brunswick 45 Unlock company profile
LG 42 Unlock company profile
Apple 40 Unlock company profile
FitStar Labs 39 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 36 Unlock company profile
Blast Motion 35 Unlock company profile
Topgolf Callaway Brands 32 Unlock company profile
Technikka Conexion 31 Unlock company profile
Full Swing Golf 30 Unlock company profile
Casio Computer 29 Unlock company profile
SHOOT A WAY 28 Unlock company profile
Dasan Rnd 28 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 26 Unlock company profile
Garmin 26 Unlock company profile
Intel 25 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 25 Unlock company profile
Interactive Sports Technologies 23 Unlock company profile
Swatch Group 22 Unlock company profile
FILA Holdings 22 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 22 Unlock company profile
Polar Electro 21 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 20 Unlock company profile
Fox Factory Holding 20 Unlock company profile
Biomech Sensor 19 Unlock company profile
RADAR 19 Unlock company profile
Skyhawke Technologies 18 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 17 Unlock company profile
Mizuno 17 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 15 Unlock company profile
Berkshire Hathaway 15 Unlock company profile
TOCA Football 15 Unlock company profile
Omron 15 Unlock company profile
Bridgestone 14 Unlock company profile
Game Your Game 13 Unlock company profile
Peloton Interactive 13 Unlock company profile
Arccos Golf 13 Unlock company profile
Musco 12 Unlock company profile
Force Impact Technologies 12 Unlock company profile
Applejack 199 12 Unlock company profile
zebris Medical 11 Unlock company profile
TritonWear 11 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

NIKE is one of the leading patent filers in environmental sensors. Some other key patent filers in environmental sensors industry include adidas, Alphabet, Sony, Golfzon, and iFIT Health & Fitness.

In terms of application diversity, FitStar Labs lead the pack, while Force Impact Technologies and Alphabet stand in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Dasan Rnd holds the top position, followed by Huawei Investment & Holding and Nike.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research: Internet of Things in Sport.

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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.