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: Sport bats. 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, 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

Sport bats is a key innovation area in sports

The most popular games involving bats and balls are Cricket, Baseball, and Softball. Recently, technology has become more and more influential, leading to the introduction of sensor-equipped bats for examining a player's strengths and weaknesses, swing, and timing. This could potentially help reduce the number of injuries sustained by baseball players.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of sport bats.

Key players in sport bats – 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 sport bats

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Easton Diamond Sports 131 Unlock company profile
Amer Sports 90 Unlock company profile
Performance Sports Group 86 Unlock company profile
Bauer Hockey 75 Unlock company profile
Bauer Hockey 67 Unlock company profile
Easton Sports 53 Unlock company profile
Cascade Maverik Lacrosse 42 Unlock company profile
adidas 39 Unlock company profile
Xyleco 30 Unlock company profile
Mizuno 27 Unlock company profile
Newell Brands 23 Unlock company profile
Easton Hockey 23 Unlock company profile
BASF 20 Unlock company profile
Decathlon 18 Unlock company profile
NIKE 18 Unlock company profile
Prince Sports 15 Unlock company profile
Hillerich & Bradsby 14 Unlock company profile
Integran Technologies 11 Unlock company profile
True Temper Sports 10 Unlock company profile
Wm T Burnett IP 9 Unlock company profile
NHK Spring 9 Unlock company profile
Chartreuse & Mont Blanc 9 Unlock company profile
JT SPORTS 9 Unlock company profile
headtechnology 8 Unlock company profile
ProXR 8 Unlock company profile
Intellisports 7 Unlock company profile
New Balance 7 Unlock company profile
Zepp Labs 7 Unlock company profile
Frasers Group 6 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen 5 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Easton Diamond Sport is one of the leading patent filers in sports bats. Some other key patent filers in the sports bat industry include Amer Sports, Performance Sports Group, Bauer Hockey, and Cascade Maverik Lacrosse. Easton has a strong dedication to research and development, utilising cutting-edge technology with aluminium and composite materials. This commitment is reflected in its long-term partnerships with Little League Baseball, USSSA Baseball & Softball, USA Baseball & Softball, hundreds of collegiate teams, and many professional baseball and softball athletes.

In terms of application diversity, Integran Technologies leads the pack. Xyleco and BASF stand in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, BASF holds the top position, followed by B. Braun Melsungen and Hillerich & Bradsby.

Technology-based sports bats are playing a huge part in the assessment of an athlete's performance. In addition, it helps in customising the sports gear according to the player's performance. Recent advancements in the production of sports bats linked to new technology and the science of materials has led to improved outcomes. To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports

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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.