The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by applications in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and augmented reality, where accurate spatial information is essential for various processes and applications, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced projectors, high-resolution cameras, and sophisticated algorithms for pattern analysis and reconstruction. 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: structured light-3D scanning. 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

Structured light-3D scanning is a key innovation area in technology

Structured light 3D scanning utilizes projected patterns of structured light on an object, using the reflected light to generate a detailed 3D representation. This method enables accurate measurement of distances and captures comprehensive surface details, resulting in a precise digital model of the object.

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 structured light-3D scanning.

Key players in structured light-3D scanning – 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 structured light-3D scanning

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Nippon Steel 17 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 16 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 132 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 42 Unlock Company Profile
Keyence 12 Unlock Company Profile
CKD 35 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 18 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 69 Unlock Company Profile
Mitutoyo 16 Unlock Company Profile
Quantificare 11 Unlock Company Profile
Himax Technologies 41 Unlock Company Profile
Faro Technologies 30 Unlock Company Profile
Koh Young Technology 12 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 101 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 20 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 20 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 32 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 82 Unlock Company Profile
Align Technology 26 Unlock Company Profile
Omron 35 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 86 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 15 Unlock Company Profile
Dentsply Sirona 42 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 16 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 19 Unlock Company Profile
Mantis Vision 32 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 59 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
Prophesee 13 Unlock Company Profile
4D Sensor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Clarapath 18 Unlock Company Profile
Magik Eye 29 Unlock Company Profile
Carestream Dental Technology Topco 13 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 41 Unlock Company Profile
Shining 3D Tech 16 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Among the companies innovating in structured light-3D scanning, Qualcomm is one of the leading patents filers. The company’s patent describes the technology pertaining to depth sensing with a device. A sample device comprises of a light projector capable of emitting light in two different patterns: one providing wide illumination in a first mode, and the other producing a structured pattern in a second mode. The device also incorporates a receiver to capture reflections of the projected light. Connected to a memory storing instructions, a processor within the device is designed to calculate initial depth data from the received reflections in the first mode, determine alternative depth data from the reflections in the second mode, and address multipath interference (MPI) by utilizing both sets of depth information. Other prominent patent filers in the space include Meta Platforms and Sony Group.

In terms of application diversity, Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications leads the pack, while Clarapath and Shenzhen Goodix Technology stood in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Nippon Steel holds the top position, followed by Clarapath and Qualcomm.

Structured light-3D scanning plays a crucial role in precision measurement and 3D modeling. By projecting a known pattern onto an object and analysing its deformation, this technology enables accurate spatial reconstruction, finding applications in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, and virtual reality.

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.