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New Google patent: infrared sensor for sleep tracking - peripheral invention or technology trend?

With this new patent Google eliminates disadvantages of the previous sleep monitoring technologies. IR sensor makes it possible to measure sleep without contacting the person. The sensor collects data by comparing the emission infrared sequences with the reflected sentences. According to the patent application Google tries to make the measuring process more comfortable and to prevent the devices influence on the monitoring results.[1]

What technology dynamic is hidden behind this invention?

To find out more about the development in this technology field, we will take a look on the patent value dynamic of the IPC Class A61B5/11 “Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor or mobility of a limb”. As seeable in the trend graph below: the class is growing continuously and in the past and strongly within the past half a year – all patents in this class are having a value of more than 1,5 bn€ - three times higher than in 2010.

Most interesting in this context in the fact that all other classes inside the A61B 5 are shrinking in value, see graph below, only the one where the Google patent is assigned in (A61B 5/11) is growing. Whilst the biggest class inside the A61B 6, the A61 B5/117 (Identification of persons, e.g. finger-printing, foot-printing or impression techniques) has lost in value since the past 6 years, the A61 B5/11 increased constantly, as described above.

Who are the biggest players in the ‘measuring body movement’-intellectual property field?

The ensuing point of our analysis is the overview of the inventors in the IPC class A61B5/11. The company with the most patents in the mentioned class is Philips, followed by Sony and Fujitsu, as you can see on the list below. There is a wide spectrum of health and medical related inventions e.g. sleep position detection and bed exit warning system from Philips or devices and methods for health tracking and providing information for improving health from Sony. But it is just one of the many scopes in this IPC class including gaming, eye tracking, fitness etc.

What does it mean?

This dynamic development of the patent value links to a trend: measuring body movement technologies are intensely growing and there are new innovations to be expected on the market. Body movement measuring inventions are the base for future development of human communication, suveillance, monitoring and caring, gaming as well as general interacting with the enviroment. As seen before this field is following a global growing trend and Google will undoubtedly take a part in it.



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