Previously, I’ve written about patent trends for the emerging technologies of deep learning, blockchain, and quantum computing.
This article shifts the focus to the realms of biology (“stem cells”), machinery (“robot”), and then back to computing, and specifically to a topic suggested by a reader (with the handle “Primary Examiner”), “edge computing.” In each instance, the bar chart tells the same story.
I’m going to quote two paragraphs from the National Institutes of Health’s article about stem cells, “Stem Cell Basics”:
“Stem cells have the remarkable potential to renew themselves. They can develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. Researchers study many different types of stem cells. There are several main categories: the “pluripotent” stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) and nonembryonic or somatic stem cells (commonly called “adult” stem cells). Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into all of the cells of the adult body. Adult stem cells are found in a tissue or organ and can differentiate to yield the specialized cell types of that tissue or organ….
“Adult stem cells
Throughout the life of the organism, populations of adult stem cells serve as an internal repair system that generates replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease. Adult stem cells have been identified in many organs and tissues and are generally associated with specific anatomical locations. These stem cells may remain quiescent (non-dividing) for long periods of time until they are activated by a normal need for more cells to maintain and repair tissues.”
In fact, the term “stem cells” is also a fertile field for innovation and patents, and so is no stranger to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
As usual, I required the term “stem cells” to be in a patent’s claims when I searched the USPTO patent database. Sure enough, the resulting bar chart is reminiscent of an “emerging technology,” and will likely exceed 500 by the end of the year.
Regardless of my speculation that robots may have been envisioned first in science fiction stories, we now have the real thing, from robot vacuum cleaners to robot dogs.
In the bar chart below, note the y-axis. It starts at 500 and goes up to 2,500. (The bar chart for “stem cells” starts at only 100.). So, the base for “robot” was built over a long period of time, including all of the years before 2000.
However, in 2015, the number of patents with “robot” in the claims jumped from three digits to four, reaching 1,068 patents that year.
In 2018, the total for the year was 1,500 patents, and jumped in 2019 to over 2,000 patents. It stayed over 2,000 in 2020 and is already over 2,000, and as of December 7, 2021 has already reached 2,248.
There’s no doubt that there will be more robots. The applications are never-ending.
To conclude, I’ll go back to “computing” in the form of “edge computing.” In this case, I’m responding to an IPWatchdog reader who called himself “Primary Examiner,” with my thanks.
So, first, what is “edge computing”?
Per Wikipedia, in a heavily footnoted entry, “One definition of edge computing is any type of computer program that delivers low latency nearer to the requests. Karim Arabi, in an IEEE DAC 2014 Keynote  and subsequently in an invited talk at MIT’s MTL Seminar in 2015,  defined edge computing broadly as all computing outside the cloud happening at the edge of the network, and more specifically in applications where real-time processing of data is required. In his definition, cloud computing operates on big data while edge computing operates on “instant data” that is real-time data generated by sensors or users.”
In another section of the Wikipedia entry, the examples are clarifying:
In a similar way, the aim of edge computing is to move the computation away from data centers towards the edge of the network, exploiting smart objects, mobile phones, or network gateways to perform tasks and provide services on behalf of the cloud. By moving services to the edge, it is possible to provide content caching, service delivery, persistent data storage, and IoT [an abbreviation for the “Internet of Things”] management resulting in better response times and transfer rates. At the same time, distributing the logic to different network nodes introduces new issues and challenges.
Additional discussions are headlined as Privacy and Security; Scalability; Reliability; Speed; Efficiency; and Applications.
But is “edge computing” an emerging technology? The bar chart for patents that use “edge computing” in the claims provides the answer: “Yes,” definitely:
Image Source: Deposit Photos
was a California attorney (1975-2014) with an engineering education (B.S., UCLA; M.S., Caltech) before law school at USC and a member of the Law Review.