The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in construction: smart toilet. Buy 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.

80+ innovations will shape the construction industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the construction industry using innovation intensity models built on over 232,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, polishing robots, robotic excavators, and autonomous worksite machines are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Welding robots, automated slurry-blast tools, and adaptive road milling rollers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. 

Innovation S-curve for robotics in the construction industry

Smart toilet is a key innovation area in robotics

Smart toilets incorporate technology into the bathroom plumbing fixture, and can include features such as adjustable water spray systems for bidet facilities, automatic flushing, automatic seat opening and closing, lighting systems, and seat warming functions. Smart toilets can be environmentally friending, by reducing water usage and the use of toilet paper, and allow for greater accessibility for people with disabilities.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart toilet.

Key players in smart toilet – a disruptive innovation in the construction 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 smart toilet

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toto 139 Unlock Company Profile
Kohler 50 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 35 Unlock Company Profile
Coway 31 Unlock Company Profile
LIXIL 20 Unlock Company Profile
Woongjin Coway 15 Unlock Company Profile
Kohler Novita 14 Unlock Company Profile
Geberit 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sensor Electronic Technology 7 Unlock Company Profile
Whole Bath 7 Unlock Company Profile
Grifols 6 Unlock Company Profile
Bemis Manufacturing 5 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 5 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Xiamen Kemu Intelligent Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Villeroy & Boch 3 Unlock Company Profile
Jomoo Kitchen & Bath Appliances 3 Unlock Company Profile
LG 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hefei Royalstar Sanyo Electric Appliance 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhongshan Meitu Plastic Industry 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhongshan Anbo Health Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Kohler Electronics 2 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Ikahe Sanitary Ware 2 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Midea Environment Appliances Manufacturing 2 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Aiyirui Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Ad Semicon 1 Unlock Company Profile
Qingdao Economic & Technology Development Zone Haier Water Heater 1 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Bodian Electronics Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Midea Environmental Electrical Manufacturing 1 Unlock Company Profile
Anhui Zhuangyuanlang Electronic Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Luzhiyao Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Quzhou Lechuang Energy Saving Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aisin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Harris, Robert 1 Unlock Company Profile
Xiamen R&T Plumbing Technology 1 Unlock Company Profile
Sid 1 Unlock Company Profile
Seoulviosys 1 Unlock Company Profile
Kyowon 1 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Electro-Mechanics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 1 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hanmi Parsons 1 Unlock Company Profile
Smart 1 Unlock Company Profile
JOMOO Kitchen & Bath 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Toto is the leading patent filer in the smart toilet sector. Other leading filers include Kohler, Panasonic, Coway and LIXIL.

Toto’s centerpiece technology is WASHLET, which it claims is the original shower toilet from Japan. It features technologies and functionalities that provide high levels of hygiene and comfort. The product line exceeded 60 million units sold globally in December 2022.

Kohler has a range of smart toilets, including Numi 2.0, Eir, Innate and Veil intelligent toilets, which include a range of technological features from heated seats to built-in nightlights.

In terms of application diversity, Ad Semicon is the top player, followed by Shanghai Kohler Electronics and Aisin. By means of geographic reach, Kohler leads the pack, followed by Toto and Grifols.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Construction.

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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.