The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing adoption of smart home automation, which necessitates versatile and intuitive control interfaces for a wide range of interconnected devices, and growing importance of technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and infrared to connect with devices, and often feature additional capabilities such as voice control, touchscreens, and compatibility with smart home ecosystems. 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: smart remote controls. 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

Smart remote controls is a key innovation area in technology

Smart remote controls are sophisticated handheld devices equipped with cutting-edge technologies like voice recognition, wireless communication protocols, and multimedia functionalities. They aim to elevate user interaction with electronic appliances like air conditioners, multimedia systems, and mobile devices by offering seamless control. These remotes often include features such as voice commands, protocol translation for different wireless standards, and integration with mobile platforms, providing an enhanced user experience.

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

Key players in smart remote controls – 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 remote controls

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Gree Electric Appliances 34 Unlock Company Profile
Hisense Visual Technology 16 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 36 Unlock Company Profile
TCL Technology Group 22 Unlock Company Profile
ZTE 24 Unlock Company Profile
DISH Network 54 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 15 Unlock Company Profile
Gentex 16 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 15 Unlock Company Profile
Savant Systems 21 Unlock Company Profile
Sonos 41 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 27 Unlock Company Profile
View 21 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 42 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 85 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 110 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 40 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 84 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 25 Unlock Company Profile
Acer 16 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 122 Unlock Company Profile
Sharp 34 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 24 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 22 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 22 Unlock Company Profile
Salunda 17 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 65 Unlock Company Profile
Dewertokin 15 Unlock Company Profile
Fm Marketing 21 Unlock Company Profile
I-Interactive 17 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in smart remote controls, Sony Group is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes a method where remote control (RC) is equipped with two ultra-wideband (UWB) tags positioned in line with the RC's axis, separated by a predetermined distance "d". When the appliance to be controlled uses a UWB anchor to send signals to these tags, it can calculate the distance to each tag. By subtracting these distances, if the result closely matches the known distance "d", it indicates that the RC is directly aimed at the appliance. Consequently, the appliance will respond to commands from the RC. Otherwise, it will disregard the RC's instructions. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Philips and Hon Hai Precision Industry.          

In terms of application diversity, Saint-Gobain leads the pack, while Salunda and Sonos are in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Sonos held the top position, followed by Salunda and Saint-Gobain.      

Smart remote controls play a crucial role in enhancing user convenience and interaction with a wide range of electronic devices. By incorporating advanced technologies like voice recognition, wireless connectivity, and multimedia capabilities, they streamline the control process, providing a seamless and intuitive user experience.  

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.