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.
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 (2010 - 2022)||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.