The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for safe driving and autonomous vehicles, and growing importance of technologies such as global navigation satellite system (GNSS) network. 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: GPS-based tracking. 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 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, acoustic vehicle signalling devices, autonomous parking, and brake pedal sensors are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vehicle head up displays (HUDs), smart light dimmers, and automatic actuated vehicle doors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are road slope estimation and V2V distance monitoring, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for IoT in the automotive industry

GPS-based tracking is a key innovation area in IoT

GPS tracking involves the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the location of a vehicle remotely. The technology can pinpoint the longitude, latitude, ground speed, and course direction of the target. IoT technology enhances the ability of GPS devices to transmit data remotely and connect to other systems and sensors. The latest tracking devices can collect and transfer extensive vehicle data such as fuel monitoring, remote temperature monitoring and driver identification.

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 GPS-based tracking.

Key players in GPS-based tracking – 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 GPS-based tracking

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
FedEx 85 Unlock Company Profile
Tile 38 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 38 Unlock Company Profile
Thl Holding Company 23 Unlock Company Profile
GEO Group 18 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 16 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 15 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 14 Unlock Company Profile
Find-Me Technologies 13 Unlock Company Profile
Amotech 12 Unlock Company Profile
Gogoro 11 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 10 Unlock Company Profile
Roku 9 Unlock Company Profile
Uber Technologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
Comtech Telecommunications 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sierra Wireless 8 Unlock Company Profile
Huizhou TCL Mobile Communication 8 Unlock Company Profile
BizMobile 7 Unlock Company Profile
Verizon Patent And Licensing 7 Unlock Company Profile
TIM 7 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment Holding 7 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsche Telekom 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 7 Unlock Company Profile
Thinkware 6 Unlock Company Profile
Titan Health and Security Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 6 Unlock Company Profile
THINKWARE Systems 6 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 5 Unlock Company Profile
Stryker 5 Unlock Company Profile
HP 5 Unlock Company Profile
Ninebot Beijing Tech 5 Unlock Company Profile
RECON Dynamics 5 Unlock Company Profile
AT&T 5 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Yepzon 5 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Qihu Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

FedEx is a key player in the GPS-based tracking innovation area. It has developed a vehicle-tracking system fitted with GPS or telematics tracking devices and fleet management software to examine the whereabouts of every truck in the fleet as well as the shipments allocated to each vehicle. The GPS tracking device is connected to the vehicle to report its location in real time and transmits this data through a GSM-based cellular network. IoT sensors wired to the GPS vehicle trackers offer a variety of other information about the vehicle, including driving patterns, fuel levels, ignition status and more. Qualcomm, Tile, Xiaomi and THL Holding Company are some of the other key players.

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