The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing demand for immersive audio experiences in areas like virtual reality, augmented reality, gaming, and entertainment, and growing importance of technologies such as binaural recording, ambisonics, and advanced signal processing to simulate realistic soundscapes for users, enhancing their overall sensory engagement. 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: spatial audio. 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
Spatial audio is a key innovation area in technology
Spatial audio encompasses the methods and systems employed to generate, replicate, and control audio signals to give the impression of sound originating from various angles and distances within a three-dimensional environment. Its objective is to provide a heightened and lifelike auditory encounter by emulating how sound waves engage with the surroundings and arrive at the listener's ears.
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 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of spatial audio.
Key players in spatial audio – 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 spatial audio
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Qualcomm||274||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sonos||49||Unlock Company Profile|
|Yamaha||110||Unlock Company Profile|
|Bang & Olufsen||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|Apple||101||Unlock Company Profile|
|Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung||998||Unlock Company Profile|
|LG Display||28||Unlock Company Profile|
|JVCKENWOOD||18||Unlock Company Profile|
|Koninklijke Philips||44||Unlock Company Profile|
|Nokia||320||Unlock Company Profile|
|Panasonic||12||Unlock Company Profile|
|Canon||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson||33||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sony Group||484||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sharp||33||Unlock Company Profile|
|Bose||52||Unlock Company Profile|
|Dolby Sweden||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Roland||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Magic Leap||145||Unlock Company Profile|
|Socionext||31||Unlock Company Profile|
|ASK Industries S.p.A||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications||13||Unlock Company Profile|
|Noveto Systems||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Gaudio Lab||32||Unlock Company Profile|
|Intellectual Discovery||23||Unlock Company Profile|
|Xiaomi||23||Unlock Company Profile|
|Korea Electronics Telecommun||26||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Among the companies innovating in spatial audio, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes the device that handles sounds from multiple directions. It calculates relationships between the different channels, picks the most significant ones, and processes them to get important settings and modified channels. Then, it encodes these channels for use in a final audio output. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Sony Group and Nokia.
In terms of application diversity, LG Display leads the pack, while Roland and Sonos stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung held the top position, followed by Noveto Systems and Ericsson.
Spatial audio is pivotal in creating immersive experiences in various fields such as virtual reality, gaming, and entertainment. By simulating three-dimensional soundscapes, it enhances realism and engagement, offering users a more captivating and authentic auditory environment.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Technology.