The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity in variable strength airbag fabrics is driven by safety demands, materials science advancements, cost reduction, and sustainable vehicle adoption, and growing importance of technologies such as hybrid fiber composites, shape memory polymers, and 3D printing. 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: variable strength airbag fabrics. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

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

Variable strength airbag fabrics is a key innovation area in automotive

Variable strength airbag fabrics refer to fabrics used in the manufacturing of airbags that have varying levels of strength across different areas. These fabrics can be composed of different materials and processes to provide the necessary strength and durability for effective airbag deployment and protection.

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 variable strength airbag fabrics.

Key players in variable strength airbag fabrics – 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 variable strength airbag fabrics

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Hyundai Mobis 3 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Boshoku 1 Unlock Company Profile
Mercedes-Benz Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
TransDigm Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Unifrax I 10 Unlock Company Profile
BST Safety Textiles 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 107 Unlock Company Profile
Autoliv 39 Unlock Company Profile
Kolon Industries 63 Unlock Company Profile
Koch Industries 74 Unlock Company Profile
Milliken 12 Unlock Company Profile
Toyobo 133 Unlock Company Profile
Duksung 2 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei 82 Unlock Company Profile
Seiren 78 Unlock Company Profile
Toyoda Gosei 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hyosung 45 Unlock Company Profile
Teijin 8 Unlock Company Profile
Andritz 6 Unlock Company Profile
Solvay 2 Unlock Company Profile
A & P Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
SAENAL TECH-TEX 3 Unlock Company Profile
Kolon 111 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 1 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nexis Fibers 5 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hyosung Advanced Materials 7 Unlock Company Profile
Canopus International 6 Unlock Company Profile
Zeppelin-Stiftung 9 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toyobo is one of the top patent filers in variable strength airbag fabrics, which can be used to enhance airbag safety and reduce injury risks in passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and off-highway vehicles. Some other key patent filers in this space include Kolon and Toray.

In terms of application diversity, Milliken leads the pack, while DuPont and Hyundai Mobis stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Milliken  held the top position, followed by Toyobo and Unifrax.

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

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


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.