The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in defense: contour scanning interferometryBuy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration suppression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

Contour scanning interferometry is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Contour scanning interferometry is a technique where superimposed waves are utilised for information gathering. It has applications across various industries.  

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 260+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of contour scanning interferometry. 

Key players in contour scanning interferometry – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to contour scanning interferometry

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Aerospace Hi-Tech 14 Unlock Company Profile
JFE 12 Unlock Company Profile
Weyerhaeuser 16 Unlock Company Profile
FedEx 23 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 71 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 27 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 44 Unlock Company Profile
Cognex 12 Unlock Company Profile
Ponsse 15 Unlock Company Profile
Topcon 54 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 31 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 36 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 96 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 54 Unlock Company Profile
Trimble 16 Unlock Company Profile
Extreme Networks 24 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 12 Unlock Company Profile
Faro Technologies 399 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 33 Unlock Company Profile
LG Display 20 Unlock Company Profile
Meta Platforms 48 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 13 Unlock Company Profile
PT Soho Global Health 13 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 28 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 77 Unlock Company Profile
Novomatic 33 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 74 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 19 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 15 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 15 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 52 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 87 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 23 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 129 Unlock Company Profile
LG 44 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 12 Unlock Company Profile
Microvision 26 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 11 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 43 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 18 Unlock Company Profile
Furukawa 18 Unlock Company Profile
IPG Photonics 18 Unlock Company Profile
Sick 17 Unlock Company Profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 20 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications 37 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 94 Unlock Company Profile
Ouster 21 Unlock Company Profile
Noveto Systems 15 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 28 Unlock Company Profile
Magik Eye 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Faro Technologies is the top patent filer in contour scanning interferometry. The main focus of the company is 3D scanning for quality assurance in production and maintenance. Contour scanning interferometry will supplement existing 3D scanning techniques and provide new solutions to the aerospace and defense industry. Reducing maintenance times in commercial aerospace is a major cost driver, and patents are being filed to this effect. The second leading patent filer in this area is Boeing, which is also developing the technology largely for aerospace maintenance solutions. Other key patent filers in this area include Hexagon, Samsung, and Sony.

In terms of application diversity, Noveto Systems leads the pack, followed by JFE and Intel. By geographic spread, Novomatic is in the top position, followed by FedEx and IPG Photonics.

Contour scanning interferometry has significant applications for the aerospace and defense industry and will provide ongoing maintenance solutions in coming years. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.