The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for applications like speech recognition, noise reduction, and spatial audio processing in diverse fields including telecommunications, automotive, and smart home systems, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced algorithms, beamforming techniques, and signal processing methodologies underpinning the growth of microphone array systems, enabling them to enhance sound capture and processing capabilities. 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 Innovation in technology: microphone array signal processing. 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, network-on-a-chip, in-memory computing, and aural exciters are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Electron beam lithography, OLED pixel compensation circuits, and PCI power management are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are capacitive touch panels and emergency communications network, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the technology industry

Microphone array signal processing is a key innovation area in technology

Microphone array signal processing employs multiple microphones to efficiently capture and process audio input with enhanced quality. This technology encompasses tasks like analog-to-digital conversion, digital signal processing, acoustic source separation, and automatic speech recognition. Techniques including beamforming and wind reduction are utilized to optimize the processing of audio input gathered from microphone arrays.

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 are140+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of microphone array signal processing.

Key players in microphone array signal processing – 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 microphone array signal processing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
GoerTek 24 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 207 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 283 Unlock Company Profile
Sonos 51 Unlock Company Profile
Synaptics 30 Unlock Company Profile
Yamaha 21 Unlock Company Profile
Cirrus Logic 132 Unlock Company Profile
Parrot 19 Unlock Company Profile
MediaTek 18 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 76 Unlock Company Profile
NXP Semiconductors 36 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 41 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 18 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 64 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 29 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 163 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 72 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 64 Unlock Company Profile
Bose 140 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 44 Unlock Company Profile
Oki Electric Industry 21 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 19 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 54 Unlock Company Profile
GoPro 27 Unlock Company Profile
OrCam Technologies 31 Unlock Company Profile
Cerence 34 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Voxtech 53 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in microphone array signal processing, Microsoft is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes a system and technique for improving speech quality by evaluating the ratio of coherent to diffuse sound. This involves taking in an audio signal through one or more microphones and adjusting the adaptive filters of a beamformer based on the coherent to diffuse ratio (CDR). Some of the other prominent patent filers in the space include Qualcomm and Nokia.

In terms of application diversity, Microsoft leads the pack, while  OrCam Technologies and GoerTek stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Shenzhen Voxtech held the top position, followed by OrCam Technologies and GoerTek.

Microphone array signal processing is pivotal in capturing and processing audio in a way that enhances sound quality and enables advanced applications like noise cancellation and voice recognition. By leveraging multiple microphones strategically arranged, this technology enables spatial filtering techniques, allowing for clearer and more intelligible audio in various environments and applications.

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.