The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the rise in connected vehicles, safety concerns, and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP). 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: in-car voice assistants. 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 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

In-car voice assistants is a key innovation area in automotive

In-car voice assistants refer to the technology that allows drivers and passengers to interact with different functions of the car through natural language voice commands. It employs various technologies including speech recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning to understand and interpret the user's voice commands and respond accordingly.

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 in-car voice assistants.

Key players in in-car voice assistants – 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 in-car voice assistants

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Mobis 4 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 26 Unlock Company Profile
Alps Alpine 6 Unlock Company Profile
Faurecia 23 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 8 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 5 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 44 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 22 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 18 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Geely 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 222 Unlock Company Profile
Nissan Motor 16 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 47 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 28 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 15 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 62 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 43 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 27 Unlock Company Profile
Amazon.com 8 Unlock Company Profile
LG 24 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 4 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 5 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 165 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 9 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 63 Unlock Company Profile
Obigo 4 Unlock Company Profile
Magna Exteriors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
Thunder Power Hong Kong 13 Unlock Company Profile
Cerence 13 Unlock Company Profile
Emerging Automotive 13 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Xiaopeng Automobile Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hyundai Motor is one of the leading patent filers in in-car voice assistants. The company introduced its proprietary in-car voice assistant system known as the Hyundai Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is designed to offer a seamless and user-friendly experience for drivers and passengers. It could perform various functions, including adjusting vehicle settings, providing weather and traffic updates, making phone calls, and controlling infotainment features. Kia and Ford are some of the other key patent filers in this space.

In terms of application diversity, Honeywell leads the pack, while Magna Exteriors and Amazon stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Intel and Alphabet held the top position, followed by Mitsubishi Electric and Emerging Automotive.

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.