The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by factors such as enhancing in-vehicle experience, ensuring 360-degree security, and improving car maintenance and growing importance of technologies such as sensors, artificial intelligence, 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 Internet of Things in Automotive: Camshaft position sensors.

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, smart car seats, tyre sensors, and predictive maintenance systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Acoustic vehicle signalling devices, brake temperature monitoring, and autonomous parking are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are disc brake actuators and AI-assisted dimming, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for IoT in the automotive industry

Camshaft position sensors is a key innovation area in IoT

The engine control can precisely pinpoint the location of the crankshaft drive thanks to the camshaft sensor. This information is required for calculating the ignition point and injection point, among other things.

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 camshaft position sensors.

Key players in camshaft position sensors – 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 camshaft position sensors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toyota Motor 147 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 104 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 104 Unlock company profile
General Motors 75 Unlock company profile
Continental 57 Unlock company profile
Denso 56 Unlock company profile
Kia 43 Unlock company profile
Aisin 43 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 38 Unlock company profile
Cummins 27 Unlock company profile
Mazda Motor 25 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 24 Unlock company profile
Eaton 19 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 19 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 18 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 16 Unlock company profile
Tata Motors 14 Unlock company profile
Centro Ricerche Fiat 14 Unlock company profile
Schaeffler 14 Unlock company profile
Henkel & Co 14 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 12 Unlock company profile
Caterpillar 9 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 9 Unlock company profile
NGK Insulators 9 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 8 Unlock company profile
Baoding Innovation Great Wall Asset Management Company 6 Unlock company profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 6 Unlock company profile
Zajac Optimum Output Motors 6 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyota is among the leading companies in the camshaft position sensors innovation area with 147 filed patents. The camshaft sensor that Toyota Motor offers is a magnetic sensor that is used to determine the speed of the camshaft and the location of each piston. The timing of the engine, the fuel injection and spark timing, and the crankshaft position sensor are all controlled by the car using this information. The camshaft also aids in starting and operating the engine's fuel injection and ignition systems. Other companies in camshaft position sensors for the automotive industry are Hitachi, Hyundai, and General Motors.

To further understand how IoT is disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things (IoT) 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.