The tech world is abuzz with the latest products and pitches from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Wearables are everywhere, but what about the power behind the wearable device explosion?
Ocean Tomo Innovation Management Managing Director, Dr. N. Darius Sankey, attending CES this week on behalf of the firm took a moment to share with Ocean Tomo Insights several observations on one of the key technological challenges facing the wearables market – energy storage or battery technology:
Developing a better battery is rightly seen as one of the key technical challenges of our time. A step-change in battery technology, particularly improved energy density, would unlock countless new technological possibilities. Improved energy density can lead to improved operating time and/or increased processing power.
There are many companies, labs and independent inventors working within the specific subset of battery technology related to wearable devices. My team recently completed a study of the patents issued by the USPTO that support wearable technology-related energy storage. We looked at nearly 1600 patents, narrowing our focused study to the 364 battery patents most relevant to application within wearables. Many of these inventions, especially those developed by Cymbet, will have near-immediate impact on wearable technology while others, like those being developed by Polyplus and Sion, are focused on larger-scale applications (e.g. UAVs, electric cars) and will only impact wearables in the medium- to long-run.
Some of the earliest patents in the Ocean Tomo Ratings™ System for USPTO issued patents have been around for 50+ years. Long since expired, the majority of the early patents pertain to watch batteries like those invented by Thomas Boswell for the Elgin National Watch Company in the early 50s. The earliest priority date for an energy storage or battery technology patent studied as part of the Ocean Tomo Wearables Technology Report is the 6391492 patent filed in June of 1995, issued in May of 2002 with a nominal expiration date of May 2019. The patent was invented by Soichiro Kawakami for Canon.
Nearly 75% of the patents included in the study had an average OTR™ score (relative quality score) over 100 with over 60% of the in-force patents included in this study rated as A-grade or an average OTR score of 120 +.
The most prolific companies inventing in the space include: Polyplus Battery Company, Sion Power Corporation, Demaray, and Cymbet. In order to visualize the competitive landscape of companies and other organizations inventing in the “wearable-related” battery technology space, the team created this landscape:
The Competitive Landscape for Wearable Tech Related Battery Patents reflects the notable players in the market from both the perspective of the size of the portfolio (indicated by the size of the bubble), relative quality of the portfolio based on bubble position along the X axis with higher quality portfolios falling further to the right side of the map and finally patents most relative to the seed patents selected for the analysis falling higher up the Y axis. While this visual look at the landscape of the battery patents applicable to wearable technology is a useful snapshot, most studying this technology area will want a more granular review of individual patents.
The Ocean Tomo Due Diligence™ Report or DDR is a key resource for this type of detailed exploration. This report provides basic due diligence for the patent including its legal status, re-examination history, infringement assertion actions, file history, related patents. It contains key inventor insights including patenting volume by class, affiliated inventors and companies. It includes chain of assignment data. It presents the patented technology along with exemplary claim and related visual, the related technology space – both the volume and relative quality of patenting within the technology area by the top patentees in the space. It presents a historical view of patenting within the technology class and related pendency, provides an overview of the most relevant related patent classes along with specific relevant cited prior art as well as relevant non-cited prior-art including: patent number, title, current assignee, OTR™ rating, percent relevance (1.0 – .60). The report includes a summary list of the most relevant patent holders and includes the number of patents, the average OTR™ score, the average % relevance. Finally the report includes an Obsolescence Analysis measuring the rate at which older patented technologies are displaced by newer technologies.
A special thanks to Steven Lehman and David Ghorbanpoor for contributing to this post.
Request an Ocean Tomo Due Diligence Report for one or more of the patents included in this study (or any patent issued by the USPTO).
The Ocean Tomo Wearable Technology Report will be available in March. Request a copy of the Executive Summary today.
Watch the Ocean Tomo Insights Blog for further patent-related insights from the Wearable Technology space focused on: energy storage (ultracapacitor and nonocomposites); energy harvesting; inductive charging, near-field magnetic resonance (charging); display; Bluetooth low energy; electromyography; localized biological transfer impedance; electroactive polymers; optical sensors; microfluidics; heathcare data management; e-textiles; head-mounted display.