The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. The automotive industry is enhancing airbag performance through advancements in machine learning, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, and LiDAR systems, aiming to enhance safety and vehicle performance.  In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.7 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in automotive: built-in seat airbags. Buy the report here.

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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.

300+ 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 one million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, integrated multi-motor drivetrains, electric power steering (EPS), and post-collision handling are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Variable compression engines, V2V distance monitoring, and turbocharger shaft bearings are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among the maturing innovation areas are kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and plasma-jet ignition, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Built-in seat airbags is a key innovation area in automotive

Built-in seat airbags are a safety feature in vehicle seats that provide additional protection in the case of a collision. An airbag is integrated into the seat and deploys upon impact to protect the occupant from injury.

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 built-in seat airbags.

Key players in built-in seat airbags – a disruptive innovation in the automotive 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 built-in seat airbags

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Boshoku 54 Unlock Company Profile
Faurecia 26 Unlock Company Profile
Magna International 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 153 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Controls International 16 Unlock Company Profile
Tachi-S 26 Unlock Company Profile
NHK Spring 5 Unlock Company Profile
Autoliv 95 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 4 Unlock Company Profile
Lear 52 Unlock Company Profile
TS Tech 99 Unlock Company Profile
Renault 4 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mazda Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 10 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 37 Unlock Company Profile
Toyoda Gosei 8 Unlock Company Profile
TKJP 2 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 41 Unlock Company Profile
CERA 5 Unlock Company Profile
Who-Rae 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nio 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ningbo Joyson Electronic 12 Unlock Company Profile
Niteo Products 2 Unlock Company Profile
Adient 8 Unlock Company Profile
Adient Engineering and IP 3 Unlock Company Profile
Fuzhou Lianhong Motor Parts 6 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota Motor is one of the leading patent filers in built-in seat airbags. One of their latest patents involves deploying airbags from the vehicle's seats, reducing injury risk and improving vehicle performance. TS Tech and Autoliv are some other key patent filers in built-in seat airbags.

In terms of application diversity, NHK Spring leads the pack, while Who-Rae and Porsche Automobile stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Who-Rae held the top position, followed by Toyota Motor and Autoliv.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive

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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.