The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by innovative manufacturing practices, digitalization, and cost efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, augmented reality, and big data. In the last three years alone, there have been over 57,000 patents filed and granted in the apparel industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in apparel: smart fabrics. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 36,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the apparel industry, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Smart fabrics are a key innovation area in artificial intelligence
Smart fabrics refer to materials integrated with electronic components, sensors, and responsive devices capable of detecting and adapting to environmental changes, monitoring health metrics, and enhancing wearer comfort. These fabrics have the capacity to bring about a revolutionary shift not only in the fashion industry, but also across sectors such as healthcare, sports, and military.
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 apparel companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart fabrics.
Key players in smart fabrics – a disruptive innovation in the apparel 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 smart fabrics
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Life is one of the leading patent filers in smart fabrics. Some other key patent filers in the space include Prevayl and ROKA Sports. adidas, yet another key patent filer in the space, collaborated with Google and Electronic Arts to incorporate web connectivity and sensors to fabrics, creating smart clothing for a connected experience.
The ability of smart fabrics to seamlessly integrate technology into fashion highlights their transformative impact, driving innovation and enhancing customer satisfaction.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the apparel industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Retail and Apparel.