The technology sector continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the progress in robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensor technologies, and growing importance of technologies such as robotic arms and manipulators, teleoperation and remote control, vision systems, and sensing and feedback mechanisms. These technologies work together to enhance the precision, visualization, and control available to surgeons during minimally invasive surgical procedures. Surgical robots improve surgical outcomes, reduce patient trauma, and provide new possibilities for complex interventions, ultimately advancing the field of surgery. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in technology: surgical robots. 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 stabilizing 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.
190+ innovations will shape the technology industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, inspection robots, robotic maintenance, and cleaning robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Surveillance robots, warehouse management automation, and automated palletizing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.
Innovation S-curve for robotics in the technology industry
Surgical robots is a key innovation area in robotics
Surgical robots are advanced robotic systems utilised for conducting medical procedures including surgery. These robots are operated by surgeons who control them through a computer interface. Surgeons can program these robots to execute precise actions such as making accurate incisions, manipulating organs and tissues, and accomplishing intricate tasks with exceptional precision.
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 410+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of surgical robots.
Key players in surgical robots – a disruptive innovation in the technology 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 surgical robots
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Fujifilm||110||Unlock Company Profile|
|Siemens||136||Unlock Company Profile|
|BrainLAB||273||Unlock Company Profile|
|Koh Young Technology||146||Unlock Company Profile|
|ConforMIS||99||Unlock Company Profile|
|Olympus||620||Unlock Company Profile|
|Koninklijke Philips||2309||Unlock Company Profile|
|Stryker||967||Unlock Company Profile|
|Alcon||91||Unlock Company Profile|
|Globus Medical||355||Unlock Company Profile|
|Intuitive Surgical||2434||Unlock Company Profile|
|Canon||124||Unlock Company Profile|
|Titan Medical||84||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sony Group||413||Unlock Company Profile|
|Venus Concept||90||Unlock Company Profile|
|Medtronic||1543||Unlock Company Profile|
|Heartflow||267||Unlock Company Profile|
|Boston Scientific||74||Unlock Company Profile|
|Kawasaki Heavy Industries||96||Unlock Company Profile|
|Synaptive Medical||414||Unlock Company Profile|
|Think Surgical||88||Unlock Company Profile|
|Momentis Innovative Surgery||82||Unlock Company Profile|
|Medicaroid||76||Unlock Company Profile|
|CMR Surgical||340||Unlock Company Profile|
|Kuka Laboratories||85||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Intuitive Surgical is the leading patent filer in surgical robots. The company’s patents are aimed at robotic devices, systems, and methods for use in robotic surgery and other robotic applications, and/or medical instrument devices, systems, and methods including both a reusable processor and a limited-use robotic tool or medical treatment probe.
A memory the limited-use component includes machine readable code with data and/or programming instructions to be implemented by the processor. Programming of the processor can be updated by shipping of new data once downloaded by the processor from a component, subsequent components can take advantage of the updated processor without repeated downloading.
Other prominent patent filers in the space include Koninklijke Philips, Medtronic, and Stryker.
By geographic reach, Heartflow leads the pack, followed by Momentis Innovative Surgery and ConforMIS. In terms of application diversity, Heartflow holds the top position, followed by ConforMIS and BrainLAB.
Surgical robots have the potential to significantly advance the field of surgery, improving surgical precision, patient outcomes, and access to specialised care. It has the ability to enhance surgical techniques, reduce invasiveness, and drive innovation in the pursuit of safer and more effective surgical procedures.
To further understand how robotics is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics.