smart homes

The “Who” Behind a Smarter Home

Smart What?

With smartphones and smart cities, it only makes sense that our homes are the next target for advancement. Today, homes are getting “smarter” by making daily household routines easier. The electrical grids that power our homes are also getting an upgrade by making the provision of energy more efficient. The technology behind these developments can be categorized as Smart Home products and Smart Grids. Using the ktMINE Patents App, we can get an idea of the companies behind the production of Smart Grid and Smart Home related patents.

 

Potential Smart Home Developers

In the Patents App, the companies are categorized as Top Current Owners and the Top Applicants of patent applications and grants. Applicants are those who apply for the patent, but it does not always correlate with ownership, as patents can be assigned, sold or transferred at any stage; while Owners are those with current ownership of the patent application and/or grant.

The companies with the highest total patent applications and grants in Top Current Owners and Top Applicants, rank as follows:

  1. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
  2. Somfy Sas
  3. Google LLC (formerly Google Inc)

While Somfy has been a consistent and active owner/applicant in the Smart Home arena, Samsung’s high numbers (seen in the graphs below) are a result of its more recent strides in applications. Since 2015, Samsung has had more total patent applications than the second and third ranking companies combined.

Smart Home top patent owners

Midea Group Co Ltd is also written above as 美的集团股份有限公司. Source: Found with the ktMINE Patent Application

Smart Home Patent Applications

In the charts above, we see how Midea Group outnumbers Google in Top Owner and Top Applicant, and the patents from Media Group’s subsidiary, Midea Smart Home Tech. Source: Found with the ktMINE Patent Application

In Top Applicant, Midea Group Co Ltd, a consumer appliance manufacturer based in China, outranked Google’s application count. When analyzing the data by year, Midea Group has shown major growth. As displayed above, Midea Group had more total patent grants and applications than Google and Somfy in 2016 and 2017. Midea’s count increases even more when taking into account their subsidiary, Media Smart Home Tech Co. This signifies the investment and potential of Midea in becoming a major player in the Smart Home sector.

Other notable companies who ranked lower among Top Applicants and the Top Current Owners of grants (no new appearances in applications) are Xiaomi Inc, Ring LLC (owned by Amazon), and LG Electronics Inc.

 

Smart Grid Producers

The Top Current Owners and Applicants of Smart Grid-related patent applications and grants are ordered as follows:

  1. State Grid Corporation of China
  2. Smart Grid Research Institute of State Grid
  3. Siemens AG

State Grid Corporation is a state-owned/operated company with a monopoly on the distribution of electricity in China, giving them leverage in terms of workforce and resources. State Grid Corp also “directly governs” Smart Grid Research Institute. The only exception to this ordering is under Top Applicants (grants and applications), in which Siemens AG surpasses Smart Grid Research Institute.

Top applicants for smart grids

Source: Found with the ktMINE Patent Application

The only American company to rank in Top Current Owners of Smart Grid-related patents is General Electric Co, and their activity stalled years ago. In Top Applicants, succeeding General Electric are IBM and Universal Electronics Inc, however, most of Universal’s owned patents are grants, possibly signifying a slowdown in their Smart Grid innovations. Other foreign actors to rank in Top Applicants are Sony Corp in grants and LG Electronics Inc in applications.

 

Who Should You Be Keeping an Eye On?

In the Smart Grid industry, after peaking a few years back, there has been a steady decrease in patent applications for companies across the board. On the other hand, the Smart Home market has shown to be profitable by the success of products like Amazon’s Alexa. Additionally, it has a lot of innovative potential beyond Alexa, such as mirrors that give health updates based on the analyzation of your skin, currently in production by Midea. Smart Home-related patent activity has also been on the rise. Of the Top Applicants whose patent applications have been steadily increasing are Samsung, Midea, and Ring. Many of the top electric companies in the nation seemed to have at least tried to become part of the Smart Home or Smart Grid industry. Though, just because a company has not ranked does not mean they aren’t currently making steady progress in the industry or working on a patent that will sell like hotcakes.

About the author: Ayana Stubblefield
Ayana Stubblefield
As a Research Analyst at ktMINE, Ayana works with the data team to analyze intellectual property documents and related news data for our IP platform.