Google leads the pack in applying for AI patents, and Microsoft is the most prolific in filing for patents, but the race is on in AR/VR, cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles, and more.
It’s no exaggeration to say these five companies are racing to own the future.
Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft are not just the most valuable companies in technology. They’re also driving innovation that will have massive impacts on business and society. Trends like autonomous vehicles and AI are still in their infancy and have the potential transform our lives.
But how deeply is each company involved in pushing the boundaries in these areas? Where can we go to learn what tech they’re prioritizing and where the next bleeding-edge innovations will come from?
Patents are a meaningful leading indicator of where company R&D and innovation efforts are headed. True, an individual patent might only be a sketch of a potential product. But taken together, activity across hundreds of patents can reveal strategic direction and priorities.
Using CB Insights’ patent search engine, we mined the patent application activity of tech’s Big 5 over the past 9 years. Here’s a bit of what we found:
Artificial intelligence: Google has the most AI patent applications to date and Apple lags behind its rivals.
Autonomous vehicles: The race to develop software and sensors that underpin self-driving cars is also led by Google, but surprisingly the race toward autonomy in cars and drones is tightening.
Cybersecurity: Cyber is increasingly a C-suite issue and the Big 5 are all ramping up efforts to secure users and prevent abuse.
AR/VR: Despite limited overall patent activity in AR/VR, Apple is pushing hard on mobile AR and leading that space with ARKit.
Healthcare: One company in particular has pushed ahead in this area and it is not Google.
Highlights from our analysis include:
- Google has the widest-range of bleeding-edge patent priorities
- Teaching computers to learn with AI
- The race to build the “brains” for self-driving cars and autonomous drones
- Preventing fraud and abuse is now critical
- Designing an augmented future for increased productivity
- The battle for the future of healthcare
- Big 5 individual innovation priorities by keyword significance
Google has the widest range of bleeding-edge patent prioritiesThe table below gives a high-level overview of where Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft are most focused on patenting bleeding-edge technologies across a variety of business opportunities.