The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by factors such as emission regulations, vehicle safety and performance, connected car technologies, and fleet management, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced sensors and diagnostics trouble codes. 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 Internet of Things in automotive: on-board diagnostics. 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, LiDAR scanners, smart automotive lighting, and autonomous steering are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vehicle sensor network, AV tire health monitoring, and collision avoidance systems are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among the maturing innovation areas are remote trip monitoring and smart speed governors, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the automotive industry

On-board diagnostics is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

On-board diagnostics refers to the system in a vehicle that monitors and reports the performance and condition of various components and systems. It collects data from sensors and uses diagnostic algorithms to detect and identify any issues or malfunctions. The information is then translated into fault codes or notifications that can be interpreted by mechanics or service technicians.

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 on-board diagnostics.

Key players in on-board diagnostics – 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 on-board diagnostics

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Huawei Investment & Holding 14 Unlock Company Profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 583 Unlock Company Profile
Swiss Re Asia Pacific 19 Unlock Company Profile
INRIX 88 Unlock Company Profile
Verisk Analytics 26 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 34 Unlock Company Profile
USAA 30 Unlock Company Profile
Cox Enterprises 92 Unlock Company Profile
Flex 24 Unlock Company Profile
Alibaba Group 35 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 19 Unlock Company Profile
Pioneer 15 Unlock Company Profile
Lear 19 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 15 Unlock Company Profile
The Hartford Financial Services Group 31 Unlock Company Profile
Allstate 273 Unlock Company Profile
Allianz 20 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 15 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 18 Unlock Company Profile
Discovery 35 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 14 Unlock Company Profile
Leonard Green & Partners 22 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 43 Unlock Company Profile
Advanced New Technologies 18 Unlock Company Profile
Swiss Re 16 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 21 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 16 Unlock Company Profile
BlackBerry 14 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 40 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 38 Unlock Company Profile
Zendrive 16 Unlock Company Profile
Cambridge Mobile Telematics 75 Unlock Company Profile
Greater Than 28 Unlock Company Profile
RELX 15 Unlock Company Profile
Appy Risk Technologies 15 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is one of the leading patent filers in on-board diagnostics. The company's latest innovation in on-board diagnostics is a program called Drive Safe, which uses on-board diagnostics system to track driving habits and provide feedback on how to improve safety. Drive Safe is a voluntary program that is available to all State Farm policyholders. To participate in the program, the vehicle user will need to install a small device called a Drive Safe beacon in the car. The beacon will connect to the car's on-board diagnostics port and track driving behaviors pertaining to speed, hard braking, and hard acceleration. Other key patent filers in the on-board diagnostics space include Allstate, Cox Enterprises,  and INRIX.

In terms of application diversity, INRIX  leads the pack, while Cox Enterprises and Flex stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, INRIX  held the top position. followed by Discovery and Flex.

To further understand the key themes and technologies 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.