Case Studies

Exoskeletons: A Technology Exploration Using Patent Data Visualization

The objective of this project is to develop an interactive visualization that allows for the exploration of the exoskeleton technology landscape. The visualization can be used to understand the sub-technologies required to complete an exoskeleton system, the organizations currently working on each sub-technology, and the level of innovative investment being made in each sub-technology. This project is under development. The visualization has been developed and Vector Analytics is refining the technology taxonomy that drives the sub-technology categories. If your company is interested in this project, please reach out to us. 

Comparison of US Air Force RDT&E Budget To Four Major Defense Contractors

This case study assessed how well the innovation strategy of four defense contractors aligned with the US Air Force’s RDT&E plans. We used the FY16 US Air Force RDT&E budget justification book to define future technology trends in defense aerospace. We compared this definition of “future technology” to Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumman patent portfolios (in total our machine learning models processed 15,000 patents). Results of the analysis showed areas important to the US Air Force that no companies were innovating in, which companies dominated innovation in particular US Air Force R&D topics, and which companies lagged behind.

Discovery of Disruptive Technologies – Military Body Armor

Improvements in military body armor have entered an era of evolutionary change based on incremental advances in materials and technologies currently used to manufacture items of soldier personal protection. This project aimed to identify sources of disruptive innovation that could lead to more revolutionary improvements in body armor. “Disruptive” sources of innovation are those that lie beyond the traditional boundaries of body armor, that are two or three degrees of separation from the materials and processing technologies that are currently used. This study was accomplished by data mining the US Patent database. 


Determining The Technological Diversity of A Company’s Innovation Strategy

This case study developed a method for assessing the technological diversity of a company’s innovation strategy. Is your company’s innovation strategy driven by combining technologies from a broad set of relatively unrelated technological domains or does your innovation tend to sprout from the combination of technologies that are closely related within a specific technology domain?  Is your company combining technologies in novel ways?  How does your technological diversity compare to your competitors? We found that using a company’s patent portfolio as a proxy for their innovation strategy provides the opportunity to utilize the hierarchic nature of the USPTO’s Cooperative Patent Classification system to characterize the technological diversity of a company’s innovation strategy.


If you are interested in learning more about any of our case studies, or would like to explore applying these case studies to your organization’s innovation, technology, or product development activities, please reach out to us.

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