Over 41,000 wearable technology patents were published between 2010 and 2015, and filings have increased 40% annually, according to a report from Lux Research. Samsung has filed the most wearable patents, accounting for 4% of the total. The electronics company has focused most of its filings for the arm and hand (35% of its patents) and the head and neck (28%); the company’s Gear S Smartwatch and Gear VR headset (shown at right) are both currently available. Qualcomm and Apple rank second and third, respectively.
Lux Research noted several gaps in wearables patents. Printed, flexible and organic electronics have totaled over 140,000 patents since 2010 and yet only 651 overlap with wearable patents. “Flexible electronic components create the possibility of conformable, adaptable and immersive wearable devices that can seamlessly fit into everyday life,” said Tony Sun, Lux Research Analyst. “However, the lack of overlapping patents between PFOE and wearables indicates a need and opportunity to develop and apply these technologies specifically for wearable electronic devices.” In addition, Lux found that e-paper displays, conductive inks and thin-film batteries were also being underutilized by wearable tech developers.