The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by rise in e-commerce, and innovative marketing techniques, and growing importance of technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, blockchain, and automation. 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 Innovation in apparel: AR-assisted measurements. Buy the report here.

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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.

20+ innovations will shape the apparel industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the apparel industry using innovation intensity models built on over 36,000 patents, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, insulated composite fabrics, and reflective fabrics are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. e-textiles, personalized lookbooks, and AR-assisted measurements are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are functional undergarments and breathable fabrics, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the apparel industry

AR-assisted measurements are a key innovation area in apparel

AR-assisted measurements use augmented reality-based technology through which a user can take their own measurements for apparel using smartphones and dedicated AR devices. This technique is more convenient and accurate as a customer can take their own measurements anytime.

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 AR-assisted measurements.

Key players in AR-assisted measurements – 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 AR-assisted measurements

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Magic Leap 110 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 45 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 11 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 66 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 26 Unlock Company Profile
Faro Technologies 25 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 6 Unlock Company Profile
Lightform 6 Unlock Company Profile
Tesa 5 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 5 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 27 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 8 Unlock Company Profile
Square Enix 4 Unlock Company Profile
HTC 3 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tatung 3 Unlock Company Profile
GoerTek 3 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Electronics 2 Unlock Company Profile
Verizon Patent And Licensing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 2 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 2 Unlock Company Profile
Tencent 2 Unlock Company Profile
INNOVMETRIC LOGICIELS 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Orbbec 2 Unlock Company Profile 5 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 1 Unlock Company Profile
Holition 1 Unlock Company Profile
Walt Disney 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Magic Leap is one of the leading patent filers in AR-assisted measurements. Some other key patent filers in the space include Meta Platforms and Apple.

Quest, an AR headset from Meta, has a new feature that allows it to scan the body of the user and give AR-based measurements. This capability and personalized measurements would ensure that clothing fits perfectly without the need for physical try-ons. Quest is integrating with ZARA for online Virtual try-on features.

In terms of application diversity, Alphabet leads the pack, while Beijing Electronics and Intel stood in the second and third positions, respectively.

By means of geographic reach, Magic Leap held the top position, followed by Apple and Alphabet.

AR-assisted measurements for the apparel industry are growing fast and are likely to become prominent as more AR/VR devices become available. Companies are currently using AR-assisted measurements for virtual try-ons, AR-powered fitting rooms, and AR-powered measurements.

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

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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.