The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing awareness of environmental issues, government regulations promoting sustainable practices, and the need for data-driven decision-making to mitigate environmental impacts, as well as growing importance of technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), wireless connectivity, data analytics, and cloud computing. These technologies facilitate efficient monitoring and analysis of environmental data, enabling organisations and individuals to make informed decisions, implement sustainable practices, and preserve the environment for future generations. In the last three years alone, there have been over 3.6 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental Sustainability Innovation: Environmental Sensors. Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

300+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 2.5 million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, environmental sensors, smart grid monitoring systems, and EV battery management systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Waste management systems, engine exhaust control system and hybrid solar are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are energy trading platforms and EV charging metering automation, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the technology industry

Environmental sensors is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Environmental sensors are instrumental devices used for measuring various environmental parameters, including temperature, humidity, air pressure, rainfall, wind direction, sunlight intensity, and other atmospheric properties. Their versatility enables monitoring and analysis of the environment in diverse applications, such as air quality assessment, agricultural research, meteorological studies, and environmental conservation efforts. These sensors play a crucial role in gathering accurate data for informed decision-making, fostering research advancements, and safeguarding the environment.

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 10 companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of environmental sensors.

Key players in environmental sensors – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to environmental sensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 30 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 9 Unlock Company Profile
MyOmega Systems 9 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 8 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 6 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid 6 Unlock Company Profile
China General Nuclear Power 6 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in environmental sensors, NIKE is a leading patent filer. One of the company’s patents is aimed at an invention describing footwear systems that include an article of footwear and a data transmission system engaged with the article of footwear. The transmission system transmits data to a remote system, such as a display system, another data transmission system, a processing system, etc. Such footwear systems further may include activation systems for activating the transmission and/or display systems. The transmitted data may be used for various purposes, such as: (a) identifying a user of the article of footwear; (b) activating targeted advertising or product information; (c) confirming the user's presence at a specific location and/or at a specific time; (d) determining start, finish, and/or intermediate split times for specific user; (e) confirming athletic equipment usage; (f) providing data for a game or reward program; (g) registering the user for an event or competition; or the like. The other prominent patent filers in the space include SoftBank Group and MyOmega Systems.

In terms of geographical reach, Continental leads the pack, followed by Hitachi and NIKE. In terms of application diversity, MyOmega Systems holds the top position, followed by Samsung Group and NIKE.

Environmental sensors have transformed the way we monitor and understand the natural world. Advanced sensor technologies enable precise and real-time measurements of various environmental factors, including air quality, water quality, temperature, and more. By providing accurate data and insights, environmental sensors contribute to the development of sustainable practices, conservation efforts, and the protection of our natural resources.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sustainability – Thematic Research.

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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.