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 impact sensors. 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 impact sensors is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Wearable impact sensors are specialized, compact devices integrated into sports equipment such as helmets or pads, or clothing worn by athletes themselves. These sensors are specifically designed to detect and measure force, acceleration, and impact experienced during athletic activities.

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

Key players in wearable impact sensors – 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 impact sensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 14 Unlock Company Profile
Fox Factory 24 Unlock Company Profile
Artemis 16 Unlock Company Profile
Casio Computer 43 Unlock Company Profile
iFIT Health & Fitness 15 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 804 Unlock Company Profile
Garmin 19 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 13 Unlock Company Profile
Amer Sports 19 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 87 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 105 Unlock Company Profile
Extreme Networks 180 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 17 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 69 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 24 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 34 Unlock Company Profile
Polar Electro 80 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 147 Unlock Company Profile
Lululemon Athletica 25 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 32 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 24 Unlock Company Profile
Whoop 34 Unlock Company Profile
GyroGear 24 Unlock Company Profile
Blast Motion 17 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 70 Unlock Company Profile
TritonWear 23 Unlock Company Profile
Force Impact Technologies 32 Unlock Company Profile
Interactive Strength 34 Unlock Company Profile
K-Motion Interactive 17 Unlock Company Profile
2nd Skull 14 Unlock Company Profile
Technikka Conexion 31 Unlock Company Profile
ROM Technologies 73 Unlock Company Profile
HitiQ 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Wearable impact sensors play a crucial role in enhancing athlete safety, optimizing training, and facilitating data-driven decisions in the sports industry. Examples of wearable impact sensor technologies utilized in the sports industry include helmet impact sensors, mouthguard sensors, wearable patch sensors, smart apparel, wristband sensors, in-shoe sensors, wearable head impact monitors, and more.

NIKE is one of the leading patent filers in wearable impact sensors. Some other key patent filers in the field include adidas, Apple, Polar Electro, and Samsung.

In terms of application diversity, Whoop leads the pack, while Alphabet and Extreme Networks stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Extreme Networks held the top position, followed by adidas and Interactive Strength.

The market for wearable impact sensors in sports is poised for growth, driven by the dual objectives of athlete safety and performance enhancement. As technology continues to evolve and awareness of these sensors expands, the requirement of these sensors is likely to become a standard part of sports equipment, helping athletes perform at their best while minimizing the risk of injury.

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.