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 Innovation in Sports: Performance monitoring sports equipment.

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

Performance monitoring sports equipment is a key emerging innovation area in sports

Athletic performance can be enhanced immensely by integrating location and movement sensors with wireless technology-enabled sports equipment and wearables. Sports-related technology-based performance tracking and analytics are rapidly expanding in breadth. There has been a significant increase in the use of monitoring devices and activity trackers in sporting activities to provide data on physical health and training. The future of sports tracking and performance analytics could be significantly impacted by "smart" sporting goods and wearables.

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 160+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of performance monitoring sports equipment.

Key players in performance monitoring sports equipment – 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 performance monitoring sports equipment

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 637 Unlock company profile
iFIT Health & Fitness 240 Unlock company profile
adidas 128 Unlock company profile
Peloton Interactive 122 Unlock company profile
Koninklijke Philips 98 Unlock company profile
Apple 95 Unlock company profile
Nautilus 94 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 75 Unlock company profile
LG 63 Unlock company profile
Neofect 63 Unlock company profile
Amer Sports 63 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 62 Unlock company profile
Lululemon Athletica 57 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 57 Unlock company profile
Tonal Systems 55 Unlock company profile
Polar Electro 53 Unlock company profile
Karsten Manufacturing 51 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 49 Unlock company profile
EW Healthcare Partners 46 Unlock company profile
Skyhawke Technologies 46 Unlock company profile
Icon Ip 46 Unlock company profile
Murata Machinery 38 Unlock company profile
Technogym 35 Unlock company profile
Technikka Conexion 31 Unlock company profile
ROM Technologies 30 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 30 Unlock company profile
Lagree Technologies 30 Unlock company profile
Nintendo 28 Unlock company profile
Garmin 28 Unlock company profile
Dasan Rnd 28 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 26 Unlock company profile
Omron 26 Unlock company profile
Intel 25 Unlock company profile
Golfzon (Japan) 25 Unlock company profile
TOCA Football 24 Unlock company profile
Artemis 24 Unlock company profile
Casio Computer 24 Unlock company profile
Teijin 23 Unlock company profile
GyroGear 22 Unlock company profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 22 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 21 Unlock company profile
zebris Medical 20 Unlock company profile
Fox Factory Holding 20 Unlock company profile
Topgolf Callaway Brands 20 Unlock company profile
Wattbike 19 Unlock company profile
Biomech Sensor 19 Unlock company profile
RADAR 19 Unlock company profile
K-Motion Interactive 18 Unlock company profile
Woodway USA 18 Unlock company profile
Connexa Sports Technologies 17 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

NIKE is one of the leading patent filers in performance monitoring sports equipment. Some other key patent filers in the performance monitoring sports equipment industry include iFIT Health & Fitness, adidas, Peloton Interactive, and Koninklijke Philips.

In terms of application diversity, Lululemon Athletica leads the pack, while C. H. Boehringer Sohn and GyroGear stand in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Dasan Rnd held the top position, followed by Wattbike and C. H. Boehringer Sohn.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports.


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.