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The apparel industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by technology, convenience, and comfort, and the growing importance of technologies such as augmented reality, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and digitalization. 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: wearable computers.  Buy 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.

Wearable computers is a key innovation area in Internet of Things 

A wearable computer is a small gadget that can be worn as an accessory and is capable of processing as well as storing data. Wearable computers are designed in a way that they are ergonomic, easy to access, and can improve day-to-day tasks by making information quickly available to the wearer. 

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established apparel companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of wearable computers. 

Key players in wearable computers – 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 wearable computers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 264 Unlock Company Profile
Levi Strauss 57 Unlock Company Profile
Gunze 54 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 27 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 23 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 12 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Royole Technologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 9 Unlock Company Profile
Immersion 8 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 4 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 3 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 3 Unlock Company Profile
Infinite Kingdom 2 Unlock Company Profile
Polyera 2 Unlock Company Profile
Biomech Sensor 2 Unlock Company Profile
Brilliant Sole 2 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 2 Unlock Company Profile
Medibotics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Salutron 1 Unlock Company Profile
Flexterra 1 Unlock Company Profile
Royole 1 Unlock Company Profile
HP 1 Unlock Company Profile
Universal Technical Institute 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nike is one of the leading patent filers in wearable computers. Some other key patent filers in the space include Levi Strauss and Alphabet. In September 2022, Google and Fitbit rolled out a new cloud tool that can help hospitals in collecting and processing data from wearable computers. 

In terms of application diversity, Nike leads the pack, while Samsung and Salutron stood in second and third positions, respectively. 

By means of geographic reach, Sony held the top position, followed by Nike and Levi Strauss. 

As technology progresses and more wearable devices are being invented, wearables are finding increasingly diverse applications in various fields from the tracking of physical activities to that of health vitals. 

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.