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Unlocking the Potential of IoT

Jul 06, 2023

By Mamata Saha


As most of you may be familiar with the term, when you take a network of devices, home appliances, vehicles, and other items and install them with sensors, software, and connectivity, what you get is the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea behind installation of sensors and the like is to get the devices to exchange and gather information among themselves. Everyday technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular networks, and Low-Power-Wide-Area-Networks or LPWANs contribute towards this exchange of data. Finally, the data is processed and assessed using cloud computing, edge computing, or a mix of both.

Applications of IoT over time

Over the years, IoT has found its way to several applications such as smart homes that use the technology to automate their lighting and temperature such that manual intervention is virtually nil. The technology works well even when someone’s not at home and security may be a concern. So, buildings have also gone a step ahead and embraced the technology for the safety of the tenants. 

Healthcare is a sector that has immensely benefited from IoT. How? Well, smart medical equipment, wearable devices, and remote patient monitoring systems are playing a pivotal role in bettering patients’ health, not to mention lowering healthcare costs substantially. 

Last but not least, IoT has even made a mark in the transportation sector with substantial traces of the technology found in smart traffic management systems, connected cars, and fleet management solutions, leading to safe roads, efficient vehicles, and manageable traffic. 

IoT: Patent landscaping using Relecura

To use IoT appropriately, it’s crucial to know the technology and its application areas inside-out. This is where Relecura, an AI leader in the IP and innovation space, enters the picture. Besides having a repository of tools that resolve a gamut of IP-related challenges, it generates reports highlighting various aspects of a technology such as the patent landscape report. Among its various tools is the Enterprise Web Tool, the core patent search and analysis tool that uses its AI capabilities to generate a branched-out taxonomy tree of all possible applications and sub-applications of the Internet of Things, a much-in-use technology. We have used the tool to generate the taxonomy and run you through all the areas and subareas it finds its use in. 

As shown in the image below, the second level shares a wide variety of areas such as home, automotive, e-commerce, health, mining, utilities, and agriculture the technology proves valuable, while the second level specifically names the range of sub-fields where the technology finds its use. For instance, if we consider the ‘automotive,’ field we can see a number of sub-fields like infotainment, fleet management, driverless cars, among others. Likewise, IoT plays a critical role in healthcare as well, with its contribution spreading across patient monitoring, telemedicine, and medication management.

Fig 1: A branched-out taxonomy tree of IoT with its applications and sub-applications.

Relecura’s TechTracker, in particular, generates numerous reports relating to company landscape, technology landscape, competitor analysis, and technology analysis, depending on the nature of the information the user needs. Using images from a Patent Landscape Report relating to IoT, with a combination of our tools, we’re going to show you the range of data it shares.

For instance, if your area of interest includes knowing the up and coming companies that have been making waves in IoT over a five-year period, the patent landscape report fetches the exact data you’re looking for as shown in the image below.

Fig 2: Emerging companies in the field of IoT over five years from 2017 to 2021.

It’s interesting to note that while 2017 hardly had any companies with IoT patents, the numbers increased over the years. In 2017 and 2018, Shenzhen Shenglu IoT Communication Tech stood out with the highest number of patent documents (49 and 162 respectively). Visionvera Info Tech dominated patent documentation in 2019. Finally, the lion’s share of patents in 2020 and 2021 went to Ping An Technology. We can safely conclude that the companies with the highest patent numbers are based in China.

Likewise, if you’re keen to find out more about the areas where IoT can be applied and the number of patent publications for each, the landscape report pulls up the requested data, as depicted below.

Fig 3: The various applications of IoT (depicted in two levels) and the number of patent publications for each area.

What’s interesting to note here is the number of patent publications for certain applications. For instance, under IoT-Utilities (level 1), you have 33,315 patent documents, which is a massive number. Close on its heels is IoT-Factory Automation (level 1) with 27,966 documents, and finally, we have IoT - Agriculture (level 1) with only 8480 documents.

Should you be interested in knowing the top IoT technologies versus the top organizations that own them (along with their document count), our tools will gather what you need as depicted in the image here:

Fig 4: The top IoT technologies and the companies that own them, accompanied by the document count for each.

While LG, Samsung, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE are the top six companies owning IoT technologies, it’s Samsung that takes up the lion’s share of patent documents in Network (Cellular/Mobile) with 1742 documents followed by Data Analytics (Access Control & Restriction) with 1308 documents.

Last but not least, if you want to know about the top assignees (companies) in IoT, the countries or patent authorities where you can find them, and the document count for each, the report will pull up the details for you as well, as visible here:

Fig 5: Top players (companies) in IoT, the countries they operate in, and the document count for each.

What stands out in this image is that out of all 14 companies presented here, eight are based in China, two in Korea (Samsung and LG) while the remaining four are American companies (Qualcomm, Intel, IBM, and Ericsson). In a word, China dominates the IoT patent scene. 

The future: IoT

As is evident from the data shared so far, the future of IoT looks bright and promising. IoT is not just here to stay but also find its way into other technologies such as AI, Edge Computing, 5G connectivity, and a host of different industries. In terms of its effect on the economy, it will generate jobs, enhance productivity, and improve the quality of public services. Finally, anything used ethically and by following appropriate guidelines bears the desired results. So, while using IoT extensively, three core things must be considered: data ownership, data privacy, and accountable AI development. 

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