The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by innovative manufacturing practices and sustainable supply chain management and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, 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 Internet of Things in apparel: smart fabricsBuy the report here.

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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 Internet of Things

Smart fabrics are textiles that have inbuilt or integrated electronic components that can detect gestures and body language and then respond accordingly. Smart fabrics can transform fashion, healthcare, sports, and military sectors.

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

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Life 76 Unlock Company Profile
Prevayl 37 Unlock Company Profile
ROKA Sports 32 Unlock Company Profile
NIKE 31 Unlock Company Profile
adidas 27 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei 26 Unlock Company Profile
Lótus Medicina Avancada 24 Unlock Company Profile
HealthWatch 24 Unlock Company Profile
Cipher Skin 19 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
Medibotics 11 Unlock Company Profile
BioSerenity 10 Unlock Company Profile
Viavi Solutions 10 Unlock Company Profile
Jabil 9 Unlock Company Profile
Amer Sports 9 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 8 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 6 Unlock Company Profile
OMSignal 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sensiia 5 Unlock Company Profile
Atlantic Therapeutics Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Instruments 4 Unlock Company Profile
B.S.G 4 Unlock Company Profile
Markel 4 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 4 Unlock Company Profile
Cairos Technologies 4 Unlock Company Profile
Nurvv 3 Unlock Company Profile
Impact Tech Labs 3 Unlock Company Profile
Bloomer Health Tech 3 Unlock Company Profile
ComfTech 2 Unlock Company Profile
Flex 2 Unlock Company Profile
Impact Tech Labs 2 Unlock Company Profile
Deltatre Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Regina Miracle International (Group) 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hexonia 1 Unlock Company Profile
Gree Electric Appliances of Zhuhai 1 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 1 Unlock Company Profile
Corteva 1 Unlock Company Profile
Catapult Group International 1 Unlock Company Profile
StretchSense 1 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Chemical 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toyoda Gosei 1 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 1 Unlock Company Profile
Zhen Ding Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Jannatec Technologies 1 Unlock Company Profile

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. Prevayl launched SmartWear™ in 2022, sportswear enhanced with clinical-grade ECG that can be worn by avid gymgoers, personal trainers, and professional athletes. It is also embedded with other cutting-edge biometric technologies to gather data about the wearer’s body, which can be analyzed through smartphone applications to improve the user’s performance.

In terms of application diversity, OMSignal is leads the pack, while Honeywell International and NIKE are in the second and third positions, respectively.

By means of geographic reach, ROKA Sports held the top position, followed by NIKE and adidas.

The future is very promising for smart fabrics, as these fabrics offer opportunities for self-expression and creativity in the fashion industry. The integration of wearables with smart fabrics can make the wearer feel more empowered due to the technologies used. The healthcare industry can greatly benefit from smart fabrics in monitoring and improving the user’s health.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the apparel industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) in Retail and 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.