The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for efficient and timely software updates, which is crucial in rapidly evolving industries such as automotive. Additionally, cloud-based upgrades streamline the deployment process, reducing costs and minimizing downtime. The growing importance of technologies such as over-the-air (OTA) update protocols, secure communication channels, and cloud infrastructure further propel its growth. In the last three years alone, there have been over 4.1 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Cloud in technology: embedded software upgrade. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 1.5 million patents to analyze innovation intensity for the technology industry, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Embedded software upgrade is a key innovation area in cloud

An embedded software upgrade involves the act of updating software elements or modules within electronic devices, particularly those employed in communication systems and vehicles. The procedure aims to enhance the functionality of these electronic devices, introducing new capabilities or rectifying existing issues. It typically encompasses transmitting updated files from a server to designated devices, downloading them onto the devices, safeguarding device data through back-up, and subsequently restoring that data.

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 130+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of embedded software upgrade.

Key players in embedded software upgrade – a disruptive innovation in the technology 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 embedded software upgrade

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
ZTE 18 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 18 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 74 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 47 Unlock Company Profile
Inventec 18 Unlock Company Profile
Kobe Steel 22 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 28 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 34 Unlock Company Profile
SAP 16 Unlock Company Profile
DexCom 20 Unlock Company Profile
Dell Technologies 92 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 20 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 34 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 25 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 13 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 14 Unlock Company Profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 12 Unlock Company Profile
PACCAR 15 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 80 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 17 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 15 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 22 Unlock Company Profile
Quanta Computer 17 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 57 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 17 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 24 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Labs 110 Unlock Company Profile
Honor Device 27 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in cloud-based embedded software upgrade, Aurora Labs is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patents are aimed at the creation of an update package for the software of an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) within a vehicle. The process involves accessing various attributes of the update to be stored on the ECU, as well as accessing corresponding attributes of the current software already on the ECU. A comparison is then made between these sets of attributes, and a delta file is generated to represent the discrepancies identified. The delta file, designed to be compatible with the startup code within the ECU, is subsequently provided to enable its execution and implementation within the vehicle's ECU. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Dell Technologies and IBM.

In terms of application diversity, Hyundai Motor leads the pack, while Kia and Sumitomo Electric Industrie stood in the second and third positions, respectively  In terms of geographical reach, Aurora Labs held the top position, followed by Sumitomo Electric Industries and Xiaomi.

Cloud-enabled embedded software upgrades allow for remote and seamless updates of software components in electronic devices, eliminating the need for physical interventions. The innovation is particularly vital in industries where efficiency, security, and continuous improvement are paramount, such as automotive. Cloud-based upgrades streamline the deployment process, reducing costs and minimizing downtime.

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

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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.