By Matt Luby ‑ September 22, 2016
From Spark Plugs to Plugins: What IP information tells us about the future of automotive
Four areas will be the key battlegrounds for innovation in the automotive industry according to key insight from patent information that has been analysed by CPA Global and Innography, a CPA Global company.
An analysis of the global automotive patent information shows that developments in passenger safety, automotive communications, automation and in-car entertainment will dominate vehicle developments in the future, the result being more connected vehicles with enhanced driving assistance and improved safety.
The research also highlighted how automotive manufacturers and IT companies are actively recruiting innovators from each other. More than 20 ‘patent superstars’ (named inventors on patents) have transitioned from automotive to IT companies or vice versa since 2008, with the majority transitioning since 2011. Both IT companies and auto makers are determined to control the future direction of vehicle innovation.
The power of patents
More than 230,000 US patent publications related to the automotive industry were analysed, identifying named inventors and comparing these to IT companies. Research was conducted using Innography®, an award-winning patent search and analysis software platform. Innography, a CPA Global company includes all issued US patents from 1900 to present and all published patent applications since 2001, including full text for all US documents dating back to 1976. The research identified career transitions between these industries, mostly from IT to automotive companies, although there is movement in both directions.
IP reveals the future direction for automotive
The expertise and skills in the IT industry are becoming more relevant to automotive. Patent information reveals that the next generation of auto innovation will focus on four areas:
Whilst self-driving cars grab newspaper headlines, in the short term drivers will see developments such as enhanced head’s up displays and monitoring of driving performance through connected vehicles. Sensor technology will warn drivers in advance of upcoming hazards and the cars of the future will self-diagnose issues in real time, alerting the driver, the car dealership and even the emergency services.
Competitors or collaborators?
Surprisingly a search of Innography’s Patent Market Tracker (PMT) recorded no acquisitions of IP between automakers and IT companies within the companies researched. This is in contrast to recent reports of collaboration between the two industries, such as between Hyundai and Google. Commercial activities such as this will likely lead to collaborations in research and development, co-filing of patent applications and intellectual property acquisitions.
Two industries converging, one huge prize
As traditional IT hardware business continues to commoditise, technology companies are looking for new industries to disrupt. The global automotive industry, with almost 90 million annual sales, offers a huge opportunity with global reach.
The future of driving will be influenced by both collaboration and competition between technology companies and automakers. Will auto manufacturers continue to own key vehicle brands or will IT companies take their place? How will hardware and software companies most effectively drive this new market? What is clear is both auto brands and IT companies are actively seeking new skills drawn from outside their conventional industries.
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