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This is the fourth installment in our series highlighting the different areas to investigate in an effort to strengthen your company’s IP research strategy. In parts one, two, and three, we covered the importance of analyzing emerging, transacted, and licensed technologies. In this post, discuss how emerging brands can play a role in the success of your company’s strategy.

Marketing strategies can be predicted by tracking developing brands. Investments in a brand indicate new capabilities, new products, or sales strategies and can give insights into new products that will likely enter the market in the near future.


Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen is more than just the historic and world-renown Beetle. VW is an innovative car company with a large collection of well-known brands.


In 2017, Volkswagen funded a group of designers trying to understand ways humans and machines can better interact – “Empathic Futures”. By exploring “Empathic Intelligence”, this effort investigated how a machine might adjust its reaction depending on a human’s response.

At a broad level, it is easy to see how Empathic Intelligence might run parallel to Artificial Intelligence. One technology might serve as an enabling stepping stone to the other. We can observe how emerging technologies are being developed and integrated into tangible products. So, how does this “trust-building” exercise between humans and machines relate to Volkswagen? 


Empathic Intelligence

Source: ktMINE IP Platform

In April of 2018, Volkswagen applied for a U.S. trademark for “Empathic Intelligence”. The application is still being examined in the U.S. However. looking under the Goods and Services section of the Trademark profile, we get a glimpse of what is going on (seen above). Perhaps it is an example of how Volkswagen is actively pursuing the innovative possibilities of AI.


Volkswagen Autonomy


We can look at Volkswagen’s other brands as well, some which don’t necessarily resonate with a traditional automobile manufacturer. For example, Volkswagen spun out its autonomous driving unit into a separate subsidiary called Volkswagen Autonomy. Above are some other brands including: 

  1. Inclusive Mobility: An effort to directly engage with disability groups in the early stages of designing vehicle technologies and mobility services.
  2. Connected Community: Providing online and smartphone integration interfaces.
  3. IQ.Drive: Bundling communication with all existing and future Level 1 – 5 smart driver assistance systems.
  4. Innovision Cockpit: Designing displays that provide a continuous digital landscape with a common vision and control axis.

These brands provide insights on where Volkswagen is focusing its efforts.


The intersection of A.I. and E.I.


It is clear that Volkswagen is interested in autonomous technologies. Argo AI is a self-driving technology platform company, and in July of last year, Volkswagen invested $2.6 billion into Argo AI, in capital and assets, including lidar technologies from its Audi subsidiary. 

Fully autonomous Volkswagen vehicle due on roads from 2021.

“Volkswagen Group is investing $2.6 billion in capital and assets into Argo AI,  the Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup that burst onto the scene two years ago with $1 billion in backing from Ford.” –  Kirsten Korosec, TechCrunch

Argo AI is developing the virtual driver system and high-definition maps. Argo will treat Volkswagen and Ford as separate customers, although there will be some collaboration. This means Volkswagen and Ford will independently integrate Argo AI’s self-driving systems into its own purpose-built vehicles. Argo AI’s focus remains on delivering an SAE Level 4-capable SDS to be applied for ridesharing and goods delivery services in dense urban areas.

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