(This blog was first posted on ideapoke.com)
One of the most exciting changes in the last decade is the rapid change in rate of technology. The world has witnessed Technology come to the forefront and one of course the leader to this pack today undoubtedly is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is particularly interesting because of the impact it is having on certain markets such as – Medical, Wearables, Automotive, and Home-Automation. More surprising is the impact on the B2B Industrial markets. As expected, these frontrunners causing disruptions are playing up the trump card early on – Patented IP. IoT developers & companies both need to understand this patent landscape and tread the line carefully.
Technology is seen at 3 levels in IoT – Devices, Platforms and Applications.
However, patents are not limited to products alone but services too. These include how storage, computing and analytics are carried around. In the stage of innovation evolution we see patents and stage of technology ranging from being purely conceptual to being mature offerings. Technology listing being a core activity for Ideapoke has some very interesting lists being populated and showing cross pollination. The evolution of the services component has the largest impact in the coming years since legacy players will compete with all the startup’s at the devices and the application space.
Since we at Ideapoke have been solving some very interesting challenges in the Wearables space, we thought why not take an IP-first view in this area. We created a few hundred tags relating and interrelating technologies and applications. We then made new categories through different patent databases to determine the landscape of patents vs technology listing. There are a handful of companies dominating revenues particularly in the fitness wearables market. These include the likes of Samsung, Nike, Garmin,FitBit, Sony, and Google.
Companies are adopting several strategies in the Wearables Patent landscape. FitBit and Garmin are rapidly expanding their portfolios, while Nike is diversifying the portfolio to ensure that they have similar products which can be interconnected. Each company has a specific need they are trying to address – maybe geospatial coordinates, notifications, biometrics or design. While most of them are trying their best to be an “integrator” – make their product a baseline and add several services which can be used with other devices – the question is, who would win in negotiations (or should we say, who can bully others into a particular direction ). This is where an IP would play a crucial factor. Considering a volume of a large number of patents and riding on the current market hype would force other companies to adopt the strategy similar to that of the leader.
For instance, Microsoft has close to 26,000 patents, and 4,000 design patents. Most of the IoT and wearables patents would relate to the Xbox and Kinect platforms and hence Microsoft seems to have cleverly distributed patents over a large spectrum of technologies and industries in the wearables space. From a more specific sensor to a more abstract processing system – the landscape seems to be a deliberate strategy to troll any possible infringement.
IoT is going to evolve more rapidly in the coming years. Consequently, the IoT patent landscape will see a spike in the numbers as well. The health and fitness wearables market alone is projected to reach $25B US this year – and companies will want to encase as much of this market through their stringent watchdog that is patents. Furthermore this will be possible only by having multiple patents filed – an entire product/service portfolio. It’s going to be critical, even fundamental, to understand technology, existing patents and strategy of the competitor if survival in the IoT market needs to be a reality.