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 Environmental sustainability in construction: smart glazing. 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, self-healing concrete, atmospheric water harvesting, and recycled concrete fillers are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vacuum insulated glazing (VIG), eco-friendly HVACs and recycled waste-based cements are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is wall surface temperature controls, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Smart glazing is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Smart glazing, also referred to as switchable or dynamic glazing, denotes a glass or glazing system with adaptive properties based on environmental or user-specific conditions. This innovation enables the glass to modify its transparency, reflection, and thermal characteristics to suit changing conditions, delivering benefits such as energy efficiency, privacy, and enhanced comfort.

This technology encompasses various types, including electrochromic glazing, which alters its tint in response to an electric current, providing control over light and glare. Thermochromic glazing adjusts its tint according to temperature, regulating heat gain and improving thermal comfort. Additionally, photochromic glazing automatically darkens in response to ultraviolet light, serving applications beyond eyewear, such as architectural uses. Smart glazing stands at the forefront of advancements in creating responsive and efficient building environments.

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

Key players in smart glazing – 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 glazing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Panasonic 633 Unlock Company Profile
KGIC Merger 402 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 282 Unlock Company Profile
VKR 173 Unlock Company Profile
LG 171 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Sheet Glass 143 Unlock Company Profile
AGC Glass Europe 138 Unlock Company Profile
Lutron Electronics 115 Unlock Company Profile
Springs Window Fashions 106 Unlock Company Profile
Luoyang Landglass Technology 97 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 95 Unlock Company Profile
Cardinal Glass Industries 62 Unlock Company Profile
Corning 60 Unlock Company Profile
3M 43 Unlock Company Profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 40 Unlock Company Profile
Dover 36 Unlock Company Profile
Resonac 30 Unlock Company Profile
ShreddedTire 28 Unlock Company Profile
Yazaki 25 Unlock Company Profile
Hall Labs 24 Unlock Company Profile
MARIAK INDUSTRIES 23 Unlock Company Profile
Eversealed Windows 23 Unlock Company Profile
Horizons 23 Unlock Company Profile
Sunsetter Products 23 Unlock Company Profile
LIXIL 23 Unlock Company Profile
Kingspan Group 21 Unlock Company Profile
Genuit Group 19 Unlock Company Profile
REHAU Automotive 19 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 18 Unlock Company Profile
Prince International 18 Unlock Company Profile
HORTECH 17 Unlock Company Profile
Grenzebach Maschinenbau 17 Unlock Company Profile
Unilux 17 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 16 Unlock Company Profile
Holcim 16 Unlock Company Profile
Rockwool International 16 Unlock Company Profile
DELTA DORE 13 Unlock Company Profile
G 13 Unlock Company Profile
GED Integrated Solutions 13 Unlock Company Profile
Legrand 12 Unlock Company Profile
Crestron Electronics 11 Unlock Company Profile
Shimizu 11 Unlock Company Profile
BASF 11 Unlock Company Profile
Tachikawa Blind Manufacturing 11 Unlock Company Profile
SAES Getters 11 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 11 Unlock Company Profile
ABG 10 Unlock Company Profile
Gebr Knauf 10 Unlock Company Profile
Roto Frank 8 Unlock Company Profile
Takenaka 8 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Of the companies that have filed patents for environmentally sustainable smart glazing Panasonic takes the lead, while KGIC Merger and AGC stood in the second and third positions, respectively.

Panasonic is a multinational corporation specializing in the development, production, and servicing of a diverse range of electric and electronic products. Its extensive product portfolio spans room air-conditioners, TVs, digital cameras, audio equipment, kitchen appliances, and more. Additionally, Panasonic offers electronic components, welding equipment, PCs, batteries, and solutions for various sectors, including consumer, logistics, automotive, and housing.

In a ground-breaking initiative, Panasonic is set to launch the world's first long-term implementation demonstration project for Building Integrated Perovskite Photovoltaics Glass in the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town. This innovation addresses the growing global demand for renewable energy and the challenge of limited space for solar cells in urban areas. Panasonic's Perovskite solar cells, integrated into glass surfaces such as windows, overcome transparency and design issues associated with conventional Silicon-based solar cells. This development is poised to significantly enhance on-site power generation, particularly in urban settings, and contribute to the resilience of the power supply chain during natural disasters.

In terms of application diversity, Rockwool International leads the pack, while Gebr Knauf and ShreddedTire stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Genuit Group held the top position, followed by Prince International and Unilux.

Rockwool International (Rockwool) is a leading manufacturer and supplier specializing in stone wool-based insulation products. The extensive product range encompasses insulation solutions for roofs, floors, ceilings, internal and external walls, HVAC systems, fire protection, acoustics, and more. These products find applications in building renovation, fire resilience, precision growing, energy efficiency, acoustic enhancement, aesthetics, and design.

Beyond products, Rockwool provides renovation services for homes, commercial spaces, and energy efficiency projects. Renowned brand names under which the company supplies its products include Rockwool, Grodan, Lapinus, Rockfon, and Rockpanel. Serving diverse sectors such as residential, industrial, marine, offshore, automotive, manufacturing, and railways, Rockwool operates globally with a significant presence in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Headquartered in Hedehusene, Denmark, Rockwool is committed to elevating building standards, reducing emissions, enhancing infrastructure, and promoting sustainable horticulture. The company's endeavors contribute to local employment, support communities, and align with climate goals, ensuring prosperity for current and future generations while responsibly managing resources.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) 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.