The sports industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by consumer demand, competitive pressures, performance enhancement, injury prevention and tactical insights, and the growing importance of technologies such as sensor technology, machine learning & artificial intelligence (AI), energy harvesting, material science, augmented reality (AR), 3D printing, and biomechanics analysis. In the last three years alone, there have been over 76,000 patents filed and granted in the sports industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in sports: wearable biosensors. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 49,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the sports industry, there are 10+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Wearable biosensors is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Wearable biosensors refer to small, compact, and often interconnected electronic devices designed to be worn on or integrated into either the human body or clothing. These devices are equipped with specialized sensors to continuously or periodically monitor physiological or biological parameters such as heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, glucose levels, motion, and more. The collected data is wirelessly transmitted to other devices or cloud platforms for real-time analysis, storage, and interpretation. Wearable biosensors play a pivotal role in the IoT ecosystem, enabling personalized health monitoring, fitness tracking, medical research, and athletic performance tracking.

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 330+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of wearable biosensors.

Key players in wearable biosensors – a disruptive innovation in the sports industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to wearable biosensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 83 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 104 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 76 Unlock Company Profile
Garmin 43 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 111 Unlock Company Profile
Aliphcom 75 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 402 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 259 Unlock Company Profile
iRhythm Technologies 47 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 167 Unlock Company Profile
DexCom 288 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 365 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 38 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 42 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 110 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson 42 Unlock Company Profile
Masimo 61 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 142 Unlock Company Profile
Baxter International 282 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 48 Unlock Company Profile
PHC 78 Unlock Company Profile
FitStar Labs 66 Unlock Company Profile
BIONIME 96 Unlock Company Profile
Medtronic 52 Unlock Company Profile
DEKA Research and Development 324 Unlock Company Profile
Intuity Medical 54 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 36 Unlock Company Profile
Sotera Wireless 36 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 95 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 201 Unlock Company Profile
Valencell 242 Unlock Company Profile
Whoop 74 Unlock Company Profile
LifeSignals 39 Unlock Company Profile
Taiwan Biophotonic 67 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 503 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 42 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The innovation related to wearable biosensors in the sports industry is driven by the desire to enhance player’s performance, prevent injuries, and engage athletes and fans in more immersive and data-rich experiences. These technologies are continually evolving to meet the dynamic demands of the sports industry. Examples of some of the technologies used in sports with wearable biosensors include GPS &GNSS, inertial measurement units (IMUs), heart rate monitors, smart fabrics, biometric sensors, AR glasses or visors, wearable cameras, pressure sensors, environmental sensors, and more.

Samsung is one of the leading patent filers in wearable biosensors. Samsung recently filed a patent for a smartwatch featuring an integrated projector. According to the patent, this upcoming smartwatch has the capability to duplicate the content displayed on the watch’s screen and project it directly onto the wearer’s wrist. This functionality allows users to conveniently read text messages and view videos received through platforms such as WhatsApp and other social media apps. The patent illustrations further indicate that the smartwatch will incorporate a pair of LED lights and lenses arranged in two rows, ensuring a sharp and well-defined projection of the content. Some other key patent filers in wearable biosensors include Alphabet, Koninklijke Philips, DEKA Research and Development, DexCom, Baxter International, Apple, and Valencell.

In terms of application diversity, DEKA Research and Development leads the pack, while Taiwan Biophotonic and NIKE stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, DEKA Research and Development held the top position, followed by Taiwan Biophotonic and Valencell.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) 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.