The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity 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 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Contour scanning interferometry.

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 stabilising 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.

180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry

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

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence 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 defence industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to contour scanning interferometry

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Faro Technologies 377 Unlock company profile
Boeing 101 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 76 Unlock company profile
Hexagon 71 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 65 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 58 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 52 Unlock company profile
Meta Platforms 49 Unlock company profile
Apple 48 Unlock company profile
LG 41 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 40 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 33 Unlock company profile
Novomatic 31 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 29 Unlock company profile
NEC 26 Unlock company profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 22 Unlock company profile
IEE 22 Unlock company profile
Microvision 21 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 21 Unlock company profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 19 Unlock company profile
GuangDong OPPO Mobile Telecommunications 18 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 18 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 17 Unlock company profile
Ouster 17 Unlock company profile
FedEx 16 Unlock company profile
Weyerhaeuser 16 Unlock company profile
Magik Eye 15 Unlock company profile
LG Display 15 Unlock company profile
IPG Photonics 15 Unlock company profile
Canon 15 Unlock company profile
Sick 15 Unlock company profile
Noveto Systems 15 Unlock company profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 13 Unlock company profile
Kyocera 13 Unlock company profile
Furukawa 13 Unlock company profile
General Electric 13 Unlock company profile
Sonardyne International 13 Unlock company profile
Ponsse 11 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 11 Unlock company profile
Mitsui Chemicals 10 Unlock company profile
Trimble 10 Unlock company profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 10 Unlock company profile
Deutsche Lufthansa 10 Unlock company profile
Samsung Heavy Industries 10 Unlock company profile
Cognex 10 Unlock company profile
IHI 10 Unlock company profile
General Motors 9 Unlock company profile
Vesuvius 9 Unlock company profile
Continental 9 Unlock company profile
Here 8 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Faro Technologies is the leading 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 defence 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, Mitsubishi and Microsoft.

In terms of application diversity, Noveto Systems is top, followed by Raytheon. By geographic spread, Semiconductor Energy Laboratory is in top position, followed by JFE Holdings and NanoFocus.

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

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.


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.