The global exoskeleton market was valued at USD 25.4 million in 2015. The high growth is anticipated on account of increasing demand for these systems in healthcare, military, and industrial applications.
Key healthcare applications include rehabilitation, elderly care service, and support for the nursing staff in lifting patients & other heavy objects. In military, the exoskeleton suits are designed to increase the weight lifting capacity of soldiers, provide endurance and strength for walking long distances, and to provide extended combat capabilities. Some of the emerging applications include the use of exoskeletons in heavy manufacturing sectors, such as ship building and infrastructure projects.
The rapid growth of aging population coupled with significant increase of the targeted disease conditions is a key factor boosting the usage rates. According to estimates published by United Nations in 2012, global geriatric population was nearly 809.4 million and is expected to reach an estimated population of over 2.0 billion. Large population above 60 years coupled with increasing prevalence of stroke and paralysis are expected to propel the usage rates.
In 2014, the U.S. FDA approved the commercialization of ReWalk, which was the first wearable, motorized device to help people with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) regain walking abilities. The increasing prevalence of nervous system trauma is one of the crucial factors anticipated to drive the usage of exoskeleton technology in the healthcare industry.
The global market is presently underpenetrated and as per statistics published by the International Federation of Robotics, 272 exoskeletons were sold commercially in 2014 and these volumes are expected to grow significantly over the forecast period.
The market is segmented on the basis of type of technology: stationary and mobile. The mobile and stationary exoskeletons are further segmented as active and passive systems.
Mobile exoskeletons held a majority of the market in 2015, with a market share of over 63%. In mobile, active systems held the maximum share of 69.08%.
However, stationary exoskeletons market is expected to grow at a lucrative CAGR of 55.8%, owing to the increasing prevalence of SCIs, which is driving the use of stationary systems in the rehabilitation centers. In the stationary category, the mobile systems held a dominant share of 59.4%
On the basis of technology drive system, the market is segmented as pneumatic actuator, hydraulic, electric servo, electric actuator, fully mechanical, shape memory alloy actuator, and fuel cell.
Electric actuator held majority of the market in 2015, with a share of over 32%. The presence of large number of commercialized products with electric actuators is one of the key factors for the high market share.
However, fuel cell market is expected to grow with the highest CAGR of 56.6%. Key factors contributing to its rapid growth include increasing awareness about the benefits of fuel cells over electric actuators. Moreover, the implementations of several projects in North America, which are aimed at providing uninterrupted supply of fuel cells, are expected to positively reinforce the segments growth over the forecast period.
In 2015, healthcare accounted for the majority revenue share of 54.1%, owing to the high demand from rehabilitation, assisted living, and elderly care services across the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, and Japan.
However, industrial segment is expected to emerge as the fastest growing with a CAGR of 58.8% over the forecast period. The growth in average age of work force coupled with growing work-related SCIs is expected to positively reinforce the exoskeleton market growth over the forecast period.
In 2015, North America accounted for the maximum revenue share of 49.8% and is followed by Europe. The U.S. is the most important market and accounts for majority share of the North American market. In the U.S. agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institute of Health have significantly contributed in terms of research funding, technology development, and commercialization of these devices
Asia Pacific is expected to emerge as the fastest growing region with a CAGR of 64.9% over the forecast period. Japan is one of the leading nations with strong technological development and higher usage of medical and service robots for various applications. Moreover, China is expected to contribute strongly toward the adoption of exoskeleton systems over the forecast period.
A majority of the exoskeleton market share is held by ReWalk, Ekso Bionics, Cyberdene, and Lockheed Martin. These companies, due to high R&D expenditure and intellectual property rights, have gained the advantage of being the first movers in this market. Both ReWalk and Ekso Bionics have U.S. FDA- and CE-approved products in the market, and currently, Cyberdene has the CE mark and is awaiting the U.S. FDA approval.
Moreover, with the entry of several new players such as Parker Hannifin Corporation, Panasonic ActiveLink, Rex Bionics, Hocoma, and others, the competition for market share is expected to intensify over the forecast period.
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