The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation and the growing importance of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. 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 Internet of Things in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Satellite image smoothing techniquesBuy 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 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, aircraft powertrain controls, remote controlled drones, and aircraft anti-collision systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. UAV swarm control, lidar for vehicle anti-collision, and satellite image smoothing techniques are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the aerospace and defence industry 

Satellite image smoothing techniques is a key innovation area in Internet of Things 

Image smoothing involves the reduction of noise to produce a clearer image. Machine learning is increasingly being applied to the smoothing of satellite imagery. This is necessary for the successful detection of small targets, or in missile detection, and navigation. 

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 60+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of satellite image smoothing techniques. 

Key players in satellite image smoothing techniques – 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 satellite image smoothing techniques

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SZ DJI Technology 55 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 34 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 33 Unlock Company Profile
Baidu 31 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 27 Unlock Company Profile
L3Harris Technologies 27 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 25 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 25 Unlock Company Profile
Maxar Technologies 25 Unlock Company Profile
Pictometry International 19 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 18 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Defence (UK) 16 Unlock Company Profile
X Development 14 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 13 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 12 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 12 Unlock Company Profile
Antarctica Capital 12 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 12 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 12 Unlock Company Profile
Matterport 12 Unlock Company Profile
Teledyne Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
Great Circle Technologies 11 Unlock Company Profile
General Dynamics 11 Unlock Company Profile
Repsol 11 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 10 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 10 Unlock Company Profile
Chang Guang Satellite Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 9 Unlock Company Profile
Orica 9 Unlock Company Profile
Autel Robotics USA 9 Unlock Company Profile
Indra Sistemas 9 Unlock Company Profile
Geomni 8 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 8 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 8 Unlock Company Profile
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Mnsoft 8 Unlock Company Profile
Cognex 7 Unlock Company Profile
COSCO Shipping Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 7 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus DS GEO 7 Unlock Company Profile
Parrot 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 7 Unlock Company Profile
EagleView Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Eagle View Technologies 7 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 6 Unlock Company Profile
Stradvision 6 Unlock Company Profile
Daifuku 6 Unlock Company Profile
Geovis Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Government of Canada 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SZ DJI Technology is best known for producing drones which capture high-quality imaging, and its status as patent leader in this sector suggests it is leveraging its knowledge of imaging to provide a variety of image smoothing techniques. The patents refer specifically to image smoothing apparatuses, indicating that the company intends to provide solutions to satellite companies which could also be used for images captured by drones. The second largest company in this sector is NEC Corp, which has also developed a number of image processing solutions including smoothing, including for the removal of cloud cover which would be significant for large-scale satellite imagery. Some other key patent filers in the industry include Raytheon Technologies Corp, Baidu Inc and The Boeing Co. 

In terms of application diversity, Great Circle Technologies is top, followed by Stradvision Inc and SoftBank Group Corp. Cognex Corp is the leader by geographic diversity, followed by Stradvision Inc and Daifuku co Ltd.  

The companies producing satellite image smoothing techniques will not necessarily be the same companies investing in satellite technology, but these advances will provide solutions and allow greater use of satellite imagery. 

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research - Internet of Military Things.

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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.