Artificial intelligence is driving important developments in technology, from controlling autonomous vehicles, to developing medical diagnoses, to combating climate change. The global AI market was valued at nearly $59.7 billion in 2021, and is estimated to reach $422.4 billion by 2028.
In conjunction with the global AI market growth, the number of patents for AI technology are on an upswing, and a general survey of patents for AI technologies shows just how innovative these industries are becoming.
The types and variety of patent filings for AI technologies in the fast-growing FinTech, biology and pharma, clean/green technology, and automotive industries further show that the expansion of AI advancements is inevitable, and next year should see a continuation of this trend in filings. There’s also been significant cross-technology development, further driving AI’s prevalence in a number of fields.
What the Numbers Show
The number of patents issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office for AI technologies has surged over the past five years.
During this timeframe, the number of AI-related patents issued has increased from 3,267 in 2017 to 18,753 in 2021. As of Nov. 2, the USPTO has issued 15,992 AI-related patents this year, according to a search of US patents in Bloomberg Law’s Global Patent Database.
Technological Driver of Innovation Across Industries
A more in-depth look into each of the specific types of patents and associated applications of AI technologies across individual industries shows a fascinating array of developing and emerging technologies.
For example, the global FinTech AI market is growing, and is expected to reach $41.5 billion by 2030. AI has helped drive the rapid growth of technologies in FinTech by, for example, increasing processing automation and facilitating secured digital transactions.
A review of AI-related FinTech patents reveals three dominant areas of AI involvement, and indicates where practitioners can expect to see a focus in patenting initiatives: financial services generally; blockchain; and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency includes applications focusing on contextual mobile banking; blockchain integrated circuits; and crypto coin generation, mining, and exchange.
Artifical Intelligence is also being used to advance the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, and a review of AI-related biology and pharma patents reveals the novel directions this pairing is taking. Examples of such innovation include patents for enhanced disease diagnostic technologies and optical devices that monitor brain activity.
In the area of clean/green technology, AI is poised to have major effects on sustainability, climate change, and environmental issues. For example, AI technologies are utilized to simulate an organization’s environmental footprint at scale and to support clean power grids by minimizing energy waste. A review of AI-related clean/green technology patents reveals several key areas where AI technology is being applied, including in carbon emission prediction, virtual sensor models for greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution detection.
AI has also fueled innovation for electric and autonomous vehicles, which we can expect to continue in 2023. A look at AI-related electric vehicle patents reveals several key areas of AI technology application, including innovations related to charging, integration with smart grids, and control systems for hybrid vehicles. For autonomous vehicles, the AI-related patents include innovations for lane change path processing, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and intelligent charging on a power grid network.
Cross-Technology Innovation Trends
In addition to highly diverse applications of AI technologies across these industries, an analysis of the patent data also suggests that there’s significant cross-technology innovation, which will likely continue to be a main driver of emerging technologies.
The intersection of AI and the Internet of Things is one example. AI enables IoT systems to create smart machines that simulate behavior to support decision-making with little or no human interference. A Bloomberg Law search of AI-related IoT patents reveals a host of innovations in this area, including ones to secure communication of IoT devices, measurement of IoT stream data quality, and biometric recognition.
Another leading area in cross-technology innovation involves 3D printing and AI. A specialized search of AI-related 3D-printing patents reveals that key innovations in this realm pertain to predicting and optimizing thermal behavior with print process resolution, printer device management, and 3D-printing engines to print physical products of digital assets.
We can also expect similar cross-technology developments to expand to the emerging area of 4D printing. Four-dimensional printing technology creates objects that are able to change their shape or properties in a predictable way over time in reaction to conditions such as exposure to water, air, heat, or an electric current. For example, 4D patents have already been issued in the area of additive manufacturing, the process of forming an object one layer at a time.
Patent Community Aligns Efforts to Advance AI
In 2023, we’re likely to see AI continue to integrate within mainstream society, getting one step closer to a type of technological shift not seen since the popularization of the internet. Patent filings will continue to forecast an exciting vision for what AI can do across a broad expanse of new technologies and industries, and the USPTO’s focus on utilizing the patent system to encourage and protect AI inventions will further perpetuate the growth and significance of this field of study.
Access additional analyses from our Bloomberg Law 2023 series here, covering trends in Litigation, Transactional, ESG & Employment, Technology, and the Future of the Legal Industry.
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