Setting the right business objectives and the research approach is one of the key drivers of a profitable business. To achieve this, an adequate understanding of a technological domain is essential. A single domain comprises many subcategories. Understanding the entire domain can be a tedious task if a systematic approach is not followed.
One of these systematic approaches is known as technological segmentation. It can be carried out by studying a large set of technological documents such as patents, research documents, technical articles, product literature, newly launched products and the recent activities of a brand.
Technological segmentation is the process of dividing a technological domain into small segments based on the various application areas or problem / solution areas. These small segments can be divided into smaller ones for deeper analysis. Each level has many segments, which are called technological nodes. They can be further divided into a sublevel.
Practical example of a smart home domain to understand the applications of taxonomy.
The smart home domain is experiencing disruptive technologies that are changing the paradigms of market trends. In the first level of division, there are applications, centers, devices and enabling technology. The additional division shows that there are many types of smart devices (for example, for hospitals, gardens, security and kitchen). This can be further segmented to provide a third level of division, etc., as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Taxonomy for the smart home domain
This categorization method brings to the surface hidden opportunities in different technological domains of smart homes.
Studying the technological landscape can help technological progress, but it is only half the battle. To develop products that work well in a market, consumer taste and preferences must be taken into account.
Companies can reap the benefits of technology segmentation when combined with market research. Figure 1 shows a survey conducted by Parks Associates, which reveals the sectors in which consumers show more interest.
The 10 best cases of expanded use of smart home devices (4T / 2018)
One of the ideas that can be derived from the survey is that consumers constantly classify safety as their main concern, followed by energy management. The global smart security systems market grew 78% to a staggering $ 723.8 million between the second quarter of 2016 and 2017.
In addition, the global smart lighting market grew almost 81% to $ 101.2 million between the second quarters of 2016 and 2017. Such information could help business leaders find profitable investment opportunities and show R&D leaders where Lead the research teams.
How can taxonomy help business leaders set clear business goals?
The representation of technological segmentation is called taxonomy. It helps a company to draw up the list of companies that have the maximum domain in the domain based on their patent applications and means that you can easily find new companies or large companies that conduct rigorous investigations.
An additional categorization can be carried out for these companies based on their size, research activities, the products they are developing and the previous mergers and acquisitions. Having the list of required companies that a company wants to see from an M&A or a competitive perspective can help companies make sound decisions.
Below are some of the questions that business leaders have and that technology segmentation can answer:
- How to find a profitable technology area to invest?
- What areas are full of patents?
- What are the technological areas that are in great demand but have fewer patent applications?
- What does the patent presentation of different players reveal regarding their commercial strategy?
- How have other players imagined the blanks?
- Where are the opportunities for mergers and acquisitions?
- Where are the threats on the horizon?
How can taxonomy help R&D leaders establish a clear research direction?
Taxonomy can help R&D leaders discover the most developed areas and how each subnode is growing. They can see cutting-edge technology in each node by other inventors and engineers and develop their research based on this. Knowledge of research trends can help them structure their portfolios.
In the security sector, there is a patent for intelligent monitoring (CN104865837A) and one for an access control system (US20160065572A1) that recognizes, authenticates and authorizes the entry of a person into a home. Another example is biometric access control: facial recognition, iris recognition and fingerprint recognition. The taxonomy also helped to find a patent that focuses on warning systems, which include fire, anti-theft and other alarm systems (CN204288422U).
Doing a market research along with the patent analysis helps companies better understand where they should focus their R&D. At Consumer Electronics Show 2019, there were products that implemented the following inventions:
- Array announced a series of outdoor connected safety lamps to work with its Video Coach Lights, which had microphones and speakers included to allow owners to chat with visitors.
- Ring announced motion detection lights, which integrate with its line of cameras and doorbells to record a video when the lights detect motion.
- Ring (formerly DoorBot) had approximately 1.6 million customers that could be integrated with Amazon's Echo virtual assistant (Amazon Web Services) and, therefore, Amazon invested $ 1 billion in it.
- There are many smart door lock products, such as Kwikset Premis, that can be controlled using Siri and SECURAM Touch commands and are accessible through fingerprints and remote access and codes. It has automatic locking and allows guest access through unique use codes.
In addition, in energy management, taxonomy can help you find a patented product. invention for smart meters (that is, an Internet-capable device that measures the levels of energy, water or natural gas consumption of a building or home) (CN105282808A). While traditional meters only measure total consumption, smart meters record when and how much of a resource is consumed. This system allows monitoring, analysis, control and communication within the supply chain to help improve efficiency, reduce energy consumption and cost and maximize transparency and reliability of the energy supply chain.
Another patent application that was found (WO2017034371A1) describes the components that not only monitor and control the reserve power consumption of an individual device, but also manage the energy consumed by all controllable devices. This would cover smart plugs, smart plugs and smart switches, among others.
Below are some of the questions that R&D leaders have, and technology segmentation can answer:
- What competitors and their inventors have in the development process and what main problem are they solving?
- What can be the technological alternatives for a given problem?
- What could be the next innovative research that will disrupt the market?
With each day, the world we live in becomes more complex. At this moment, hundreds of researchers will have finished the scientific works. Hundreds of others must have filed patents for their inventions. More than 3.17 million patents and 2 million scientific articles are filed each year worldwide. For a long time, patent analysis was used to find objective information, visualization and interpretation. But now there is a lot of space for creative people who are not afraid of the new and the unknown and who want to see how technological development will develop. This is the true spirit of research and innovation.
Gaurav Sharma, Priya Vashishth
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