The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increasing penetration of electronics into vehicle systems to make mobility safer and intelligent, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, sensors, and machine learning. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial intelligence in Automotive: Smart dimming headlights.

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 stabilising 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.

290+ innovations will shape the automotive industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over 619,000 patents, there are 290+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, manufacturability analysis, autonomous parking, and lidar for vehicle anti-collision are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Speed profile estimation, smart light dimmers, and driver drowsiness detection are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are road slope estimation and adaptive cruise control, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the automotive industry

Smart dimming headlights is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

Smart dimming headlights increase forward lighting at night and automate the high beam control by using a digital camera mounted on the interior rearview mirror. The camera automatically switches from high beam to low beam when a car approaches until it is no longer in view.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart dimming headlights.

Key players in smart dimming headlights – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to smart dimming headlights

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Koito Manufacturing 449 Unlock company profile
Valeo 200 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 162 Unlock company profile
Denso 119 Unlock company profile
Stanley Electric 105 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 88 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 83 Unlock company profile
Faurecia 82 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Mobis 67 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 55 Unlock company profile
SL 37 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 33 Unlock company profile
General Motors 31 Unlock company profile
Aisin 27 Unlock company profile
ZKW Group 22 Unlock company profile
Continental 21 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 17 Unlock company profile
Sharp 17 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 16 Unlock company profile
J.W. Speaker 15 Unlock company profile
Automotive Lighting Brotterode 15 Unlock company profile
Maxell 14 Unlock company profile
Tenneco 14 Unlock company profile
Dai Nippon Printing 12 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 11 Unlock company profile
Apollo Global Management 10 Unlock company profile
Kia 10 Unlock company profile
ams 10 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 8 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 8 Unlock company profile
LG 8 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 7 Unlock company profile
Magna International 7 Unlock company profile
Fuji Heavy Industries 7 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 6 Unlock company profile
Varroc Engineering 5 Unlock company profile
Beijing Automotive Group 5 Unlock company profile
Zhengzhou Yutong Bus 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Koito Manufacturing is one of the leading companies in smart dimming headlights for the automotive industry. Koito and Reality AI are collaborating on the next generation of adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights, which will use AI to reduce false positive rates and provide more accurate predictions. Toyota Motor and Porsche Automobil are other significant automotive patent filers in the innovation area.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Automotive.


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.