The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for automation and efficiency in inspection tasks, as well as advancements in sensor technology and data analytics, and growing importance of technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled sensors for data acquisition, machine learning algorithms for intelligent analysis, and cloud-based platforms for centralized management and reporting, collectively driving advancements in smart inspection within the IoT landscape. 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 Internet of Things in technology: smart inspection. 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 stabilizing 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.

190+ 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 1.5 million patents, there are 190+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, real-time fault monitoring, smart inspection, and physiological monitoring are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart window screens, smart lighting, and multi-sensor collision avoidance are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is NFC broadcasting, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the technology industry

Smart inspection is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Smart inspection utilizes cutting-edge technologies such as image processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to automate the evaluation of objects or vehicles. It entails scrutinizing images or sensor-derived data to pinpoint damages, recognize defects, and gauge their severity. By harnessing these technologies, smart inspection systems deliver precise and swift assessments, expediting decision-making processes and minimizing the need for manual intervention.

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 70+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart inspection.

Key players in smart inspection – 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 smart inspection

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
American International Group Inc (AIG) 12 Unlock Company Profile
Mitchell International 16 Unlock Company Profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 183 Unlock Company Profile
USAA 18 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 142 Unlock Company Profile
The Reynolds and Reynolds 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China 143 Unlock Company Profile
The Toronto-Dominion Bank 21 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 61 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 10 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 5 Unlock Company Profile
Laboratory Corp of America 6 Unlock Company Profile
Donan Engineering 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nauto 10 Unlock Company Profile
Healthy io 15 Unlock Company Profile
NetraDyne 12 Unlock Company Profile
Tractable 50 Unlock Company Profile
Taikang Insurance Group 16 Unlock Company Profile
Click-Ins 7 Unlock Company Profile
Tempus Labs 6 Unlock Company Profile
Curiteva 7 Unlock Company Profile
ReviverMx 11 Unlock Company Profile
Evryx Acquisition 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nant 137 Unlock Company Profile
Yembo 19 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in smart inspection, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes the computer system that checks for hail damage and potential hail-related fraud. It analyses images of rooftops to identify damaged areas, determines the shape and size of each damage, and then compares them to ascertain if they are consistent with hail damage. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Ping An Insurance (Group) and Alibaba Group.

In terms of application diversity, Curiteva held the top position, while Healthy io and ReviverMx stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographical reach, Nant leads the pack, followed by Tractable and Yembo.

Smart inspection in IoT is pivotal for streamlining and enhancing quality control processes across industries. By employing advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it automates the assessment of objects or environments, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in inspections, while reducing manual labor.

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

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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.