The automotive industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for vehicle safety and emergence of autonomous and connected vehicles, and growing importance of technologies such as Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 1.2 million patents filed and granted in the automotive industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Automotive: Vehicle head-up displays (HUDs).

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 stabilising 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.

290+ innovations will shape the automotive industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the automotive industry using innovation intensity models built on over 619,000 patents, there are 290+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, resilient spoke wheels, auto-transmission lubrication circuits, and ignition switching engines are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Engine purge actuators, electro-dynamic braking, and adsorptive vapour recovery system estimation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are collision avoidance braking control system and direct injection type engines, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the automotive industry

Vehicle head-up displays (HUDs) is a key innovation area in automotive

Head-up displays project key information such as navigation guidance, warning lights, and engine parameters on the windscreen or any other transparent panel in the driver’s line of sight. It considerably limits the number of times a driver needs to take their eyes off the road.

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 90+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established automotive companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of vehicle head-up displays (HUDs).

Key players in vehicle head-up displays (HUDs) – a disruptive innovation in the automotive industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to vehicle head-up displays

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Denso 374 Unlock company profile
Nippon Seiki 347 Unlock company profile
Yazaki 342 Unlock company profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 290 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 238 Unlock company profile
Continental 192 Unlock company profile
Porsche Automobil Holding 150 Unlock company profile
Sekisui Chemical 137 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 128 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Mobis 114 Unlock company profile
GENTEX 94 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 94 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 91 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 90 Unlock company profile
General Motors 87 Unlock company profile
Ricoh 87 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 86 Unlock company profile
Bayerische Motoren Werke 78 Unlock company profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 76 Unlock company profile
Pioneer 76 Unlock company profile
Valeo 75 Unlock company profile
Johnson Controls International 75 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 74 Unlock company profile
JVCKENWOOD 70 Unlock company profile
Beijing Electronics Holding 67 Unlock company profile
LG 64 Unlock company profile
Maxell 63 Unlock company profile
AGC 58 Unlock company profile
Johnson Controls Automotive Electronics 55 Unlock company profile
Marelli Holdings 54 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 48 Unlock company profile
Valeo Comfort & Driving Assistance 48 Unlock company profile
Gentex 46 Unlock company profile
Nippon Kayaku 43 Unlock company profile
Konica Minolta 34 Unlock company profile
Envisics 33 Unlock company profile
Kia 31 Unlock company profile
Kyocera 31 Unlock company profile
Vitro SAB de CV 27 Unlock company profile
Nitto Denko 26 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 26 Unlock company profile
Jabil 25 Unlock company profile
Central Glass 23 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 22 Unlock company profile
Nidec 21 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 20 Unlock company profile
Renault 19 Unlock company profile
BorgWarner 18 Unlock company profile
Koito Manufacturing 17 Unlock company profile
Alps Alpine 17 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

DENSO is a key player in the vehicle head-up displays innovation area. DENSO's new HUD can coordinate with sensor-based technologies to inform drivers of the presence of pedestrians ahead. It can coordinate with vehicle navigation and project virtual directions and lane guidance on the windshield to provide information to the driver more quickly and naturally. DENSO designed the positions, colours, and other indication factors of HUD to provide a natural driving experience. It also raised display brightness by a factor of two to provide a clearer and brighter image even in direct sunlight. Yazaki, Nippon Seiki, Panasonic and Compagnie de Saint Gobain are some of the other key players. To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the automotive industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Automotive.


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.