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Trending Tech: The Internet of Things

One of the hottest new tech developments in recent years is dubbed “the internet of things” (or IoT). This field is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, with the McKensey Global Institute estimating that by 2025, IoT technology will have an annual economic footprint between $2.7 and $6.2 trillion. As such, there has been a lot of interest in the patents that protect this tech, and the brands that are rushing to claim their share of the market.

Just What Is the IoT?

The internet connects information across different computers together. The Internet of Things connects information across different physical objects together. In fact, the first example of an IoT connection happened in 1990, when John Romkey and Simon Hackett connected a toaster to the internet. However, it wasn’t until 1999 that the term “Internet of Things” was coined.

One of the most widely-seen instances of IoT technology is in smart homes, wherein individuals control their house’s locks, lighting, and surveillance from their smartphones, even when they’re away from the house. However, the implications of IoT tech goes far beyond that.

Room for Explosive Growth and Profitability

Imagine this: sensors on every single machine in a factory, constantly monitoring how systems are functioning, and when it’s time for maintenance. The factory never experiences lost profitability through machine downtime, and saves bundles through proactive maintenance rather than expensive repairs. Or how about this: a retail manager who always has real-time data on the location and volume of their inventory, so that they can prevent theft, order intelligently, and answer client demand quickly. Speaking of which, consider the ways that IoT technology can improve large-scale supply chains across the globe, or improve car safety and performance, or help doctors investigate and manage the health of their patients.

Patent Activity Within the Internet of Things

There are so many different applications and benefits of physical connectivity, which is why so many industry titans are filing for patents and driving their RD departments to discover the possibilities within this field. A study published on Medium shows that applications for patents in the Internet-of-Things space skyrocketed from a little over 100 (per year) in 2013 to over 800 in 2016. What might be especially interesting to know is that, according to data available through the WIPO, this field is also highly fragmented, and the top filer in the IoT space only holds about 5% of granted and pending patents. That means that there’s still plenty of time for new businesses to claim a significant market share within this developing space.

In theory, the Internet of Things sounds like the promise of a seamless, utopian, futuristic world. However, in practice, there are still many practicalities that need to be hammered out. In order to enable a network of physical connectivity, there must be three aspects:

  1. Data Capture: Sensors and monitors that can read pertinent information.
  2. Data Collection and Organization: Systems that have the capability to store and sort huge volumes of information.
  3. Data Interpretation: This can function at several levels, either providing interfaces that allow humans to effectively understand the data, or, at a more advanced stage, machine-to-machine communication that interprets the information and takes action in response, without a human ever getting involved.

Along with these aspects come logistical challenges that require new inventions in technology and functionality, including security measures, automated machine technology, and analytical techniques, just to name a few.

The Challenges and Value of IoT Patent Search

As both existing and burgeoning businesses discover gaps in existing technology and intellectual property ownership, they’re better able to develop new products and services, and establish themselves within a competitive field. Research, however, comes with some specific challenges:

  1. The phraseology surrounding the Internet of Things is specialized and constantly developing, which means that a casual, amateur search will never find all the information needed.
  2. The phrases are always developing because the tech is always developing, which of course, poses another challenge, and information can quickly become outdated.
  3. Development of tech that enables the Internet of Things isn’t just happening in America; it’s a global phenomenon with worldwide brands jostling into position. Therefore, applicable information will be international, even if you’re only applying for a U.S. Patent.

A wise patent strategy for a developing field always comes back to solid research. After all, as we always say, “Decisions are only as good as the data upon which they rely.” Here at Global Patent Solutions, we’re experienced in researching new developments pertaining to the Internet of Things. Our proprietary search tools and techniques allow us access to the most applicable and up-to-date information to help you better position yourself within this exciting market. Whether you need a landscape report, patentability search, or freedom-to-operate clearance, we can deliver. Give us a call today to learn more.