An analysis of U.S. patents done by Fairview Research reveals that Facebook has made a significant surge in its year-over-year ranking for patents granted in 2019, something partly owed to its increased number of patents surrounding augmented reality. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.
The social media giant is still only in 36th place for companies granted U.S. patents, which in 2019 tallied a total of 989. This represents a 64 percent increase over the number of patents granted to the company in 2018 however, which consequently bumped the company up the rankings by an astounding 22 places.
Here’s a quick look at the top ten in comparison to Facebook, courtesy of Fairview Research:
|Organization||2019 Grants||2018 Grants||% Change||Rank Change|
|1||International Business Machines Corp||9,262||9,100||2||0|
|2||Samsung Electronics Co Ltd||6,469||5,850||11||0|
|4||Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC||3,081||2,353||31||3|
|6||LG Electronics Inc||2,805||2,474||14||-1|
|8||Ford Global Technologies LLC||2,468||2,123||16||2|
|9||Amazon Technologies Inc||2,427||2,035||19||3|
|10||Huawei Technologies Co Ltd||2,418||1,680||44||6|
Bloomberg notes that Facebook’s ‘Optical Elements’ category showed a nearly six-fold jump year-over-year, tallying a total of 169 patents. A majority of that growth however is said to come from the ‘Heads-Up Displays’ sub-category, which can either serve augmented or virtual reality depending on its intended use.
Of the many granted, here’s a few of the most interesting AR/VR patents we’ve found:
- Beamsplitter assembly for eye tracking in head-mounted displays
- Depth mapping with a head mounted display using stereo cameras and structured light
- Varifocal head-mounted display including modular air spaced optical assembly
- Head mounted display including pancake lens block
Outside of optimal element-related patents, many of the patents granted to Facebook in 2019 dealt with things like eye-tracking, online content delivery, and machine learning, the latter of which carries with it broad implications across all computing mediums and AR alike thanks to its use in computer vision tasks.
And while patents alone don’t tell the whole story, it’s apparent Facebook is mounting up to release an AR headset at some point in the near future. A number of the company’s hardware and software-related job listings last year made a prescient mention of Facebook-built AR headset.
With a growing number of Facebook-employed AR/VR professionals and a mounting catalog of IP, it’s clear Facebook isn’t just flirting with the idea of entering into the AR space, but rather it has a definite intention of owning a significant slice of the market.