A new study of patenting trends shows that artificial intelligence (AI) continues to dominate research and development (R&D) at technology companies and enterprises alike. Conducted by the intellectual property experts at Kilpatrick Townsend and GreyB Services, the study identified the 12 hottest categories for patent application volume and found that AI and machine learning sits solidly in the upper third.
The study examined AI patents by applied use cases. The experts showed that the top three use cases were as follows:
The field of computer vision is all about using AI to help computers identify and classify the visual world the way people do.
“The goal of computer vision is to emulate human vision using digital images through these three main processing components executed one after the other—image acquisition, image processing, and image analysis/understanding,” the report explains.
The study found that Adobe Systems was the most prolific filer of patent applications for innovations around applying AI to computer vision.
Natural Language Processing
Getting computers to communicate with people in a natural and understandable way remains one of the toughest nuts to crack in AI science.
“Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a fundamental element of artificial intelligence for communicating with intelligent systems using natural language,” the report explains. “NLP helps computers read and respond by simulating the human ability to understand the everyday language that people use to communicate.”
The study showed that Facebook leads all patent filers in the area of NLP.
The study showed that all types of healthcare applications of AI are on the rise, in a number of areas. In fact, the highly related field of computational biology and bioinformatics made up its own distinct category in this study, and was one of the few which ranked higher than AI, trailing only fintech and blockchain.
“AI has brought a revolution in healthcare industry via the introduction of systems for robot-assisted surgery, virtual nursing assistants, administrative workflow, preliminary diagnosis, medication management, drug creation, health monitoring, etc.,” the report explained.
The report found that General Electric filed the most patents in healthcare applications of AI.
Meanwhile, the study also looked at AI patent filings by the types of AI and machine learning techniques used. It showed that AI patent filings are increasing across all types of reviewed techniques, with the top five techniques being the use of: pattern recognition, neural networks, predictive analysis, classifiers, and clusters.
“Of those that we assessed, pattern recognition, predictive analysis, and neural networks correspond to the highest rate of innovation, as evidenced by the rapidly increasing year-over-year numbers of patent applications of these clusters,” the report explained.
Among these top three techniques, and across the AI category as a whole, the top filers for AI patents were an unsurprising bunch. In order, the likely suspects were IBM, Microsoft, and Google.