The Unexplored Areas in Smart Switches Industry – a White Space Analysis

 In IP Analytics

Do you also think – how companies like Microsoft and Coca-Cola are superior in their domain? Microsoft dominates the industry in computer operating systems and Coca-Cola in beverages and snacks.

Even though these are 2 totally different companies with different business model and market; both, however, have one strong thing in common. They are early adopters. They innovated where no one was working.

Bill Gates sensed the need of an easy to use computer operating system and Coca-Cola caught the new addiction of people for soda drinks. Both entered in industries of their interest early and are still leading till today. Simply put, they spotted the white space and grabbed the opportunity.

Same goes for any other industry. Take Segway that entered into the self-balancing vehicle industry way earlier than others. It’s is still reaping the fruits of success even though the whole Hoverboard industry has turned to a mess.

Similarly, in many industries, a lot of white spaces are present which if spotted and worked on, could make a company next Coca Cola of a new field.

One such industry is smart switches – the backbone of the internet of things. A lot of white spaces exist in it.

But before disclosing them, first I would like to give you a brief overview of what Smart Switches are. Then we will move to the recent innovation and finally, we will discuss the white spaces that exist in the industry. Here we go:

What are Smart Switches – An Overview

A smart switch is a switch that can be triggered under various defined conditions such as temperature change, voice commands, through a network, or through any other sensor. One great example of a smart switch device is a smoke detector. Smoke detector triggers an alarm once its sensors find smoke in its vicinity.

Now it’s quite obvious why the internet of things is driven by smart switches. Your fitness bands, your temperature sensing AC, your motion detecting TV, almost every other smart gadget is using a smart switch to function.

We all know that future of IOT is bright and this industry is in its early phase. There are tons of opportunities for companies to innovate in this domain and quite possibly build a great presence.

In order to explore those opportunities, we studied patents filed on smart switches that have application in home automation. Patents analytics is a robust way to figure out the current state of innovation in an industry. Not only this, it’s also the best way to spot White space in a domain.

Recent innovations in Smart Switches

Smart switches have wide areas of applications. Hence, the patent filing in the domain is also wide. From power outlets to optical sensors, and from Wearables to Window shades, they have applications.

The graph below gives you a birds eye view of the number of patents filed in different application areas in the recent time.

smart switch patent distribution [image1]

The above chart also indicates the popular research areas and the areas where research is scarce. The highly popular research areas appear promising at the first look; However, it’s always good to turn the stone.

So, let’s dive deep to find which areas are great to channelize research spending and have high ROI.

White space in smart switch industry

Let’s first explore how patent filing in the smart switch technologies evolved over the past few years. Technology areas that are high in demand but have less patent filing represent potential white space in the domain.

The chart below has the patent filing timeline of most used common components and most common application areas of smart switches –

Smart Switch patent distribution timeline [image2]

At present, there is less number of patents on the use of power line communication in smart switches. Patent filing in this area is growing and it can be explored for future potential.

Similarly, the use of smart switches for power outlets, smart kitchen and window shades is relatively less explored. In the case of a smart kitchen, the patent filing has increased in recent time. This area, undoubtedly, has a lot of business potential as we will see many smart kitchen devices in the market soon.

Below is the graph of patent filings in the core technologies of Smart switches:

Smart Switch patent distribution timeline 2 [image3]

From the graph, you can see occupancy and image sensors have great application areas but are among the less researched technologies. The same is with biometric and wearables smart switches. In the past, biometric security systems were used in establishments with sensitive information. Today we have fingerprint sensors in our smartphones.

Technology intersection in the white space of smart switch industry

Technology intersection is another great metric to analyze where two different technologies meet. It, thus, narrows our white space search of a domain. The intersection may also unravel a hidden business opportunity.

Smart switch technology intersection [image4]

The above chart, for example, is an indicative of research opportunities lying ahead.

Occupancy sensors, for example, have great applications in security systems but there are only 8 patents filed in that area.  Same is the case with image sensors.

Wearables represent another potential area under smart switches to work on. At present, wearable are only integrated with fitness trackers or smartphones. In the future, however, they will get integrated with almost every consumer electronics device there in your home.

Giving an example, there can be a smart-watch that controls your music system based on your heart rate i.e. light and feeble for exercise and metal for workouts and gaming.

Or that can turn on or off your AC based on your body temperature. There are infinite ways through which smart wearables will become an essential part of the internet of things.

At present, few or no competitors are in this area. There are not so many products, too. However, non-traditional companies of smart switches like LG and Whirlpool are slowly increasing their filing in this domain which indicates their plan to expand their core business in smart switches.

Recently Shikhar Sahni explained how nontraditional watchmakers took all of the profit away from traditional watch makers by moving first in the domain of smart watches. He also explained a way to figure these trends before others. You must read his article for a better understanding of the concept as similar things could happen with switch makers or with anyone from any tech domain. Click here to start spotting tech trends before anyone else

If you are a traditional switch maker or someone who wants to know where could be white spaces in your domain of operations, getting such a white space analysis done can be beneficial.

We can help you reveal a lot of research gaps in the smart switch industry or any technological industry.

Authored By: Shabaz Khan, Research Analyst, Market Research Team

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