Microsoft & Immersion Trigger Rapid Pace of Inventions in Virtual Reality Gaming Technology, Finds An iRunway Research

Alphabet races to develop consumer-friendly VR products; increases R&D focus on smartphone-based technology

AUSTIN, TEXAS – 27 Sep, 2017 – iRunway, a technology research firm specializing in patent licensing and litigation, has released a research report on Virtual Reality in Gaming that reveals increasing focus to develop content and powerful processors. Microsoft’s early entry gives it a strong edge in the landscape; however, newer players such as Alphabet have begun marking their presence in this space. 

Sony, Samsung and Alphabet are making significant headway in the product space, and are growing their IP footprint simultaneously. Alphabet has strengthened its IP portfolio with 906 patents and pending applications, 60 of which pertain to gaming, marking its strong presence in the mobile based virtual reality market. However, there is large emphasis on the development of visual computing and graphics processors to render a more visually realistic experience. “Players in the VR ecosystem are moving away from CPUs to alternative processors such as GPUs, FPGAs and AI processors to avoid lag time and provide real time calculations. There is increasing focus on developing neural networks that work in combination with I/O devices and processors to bridge the gap between the real and virtual worlds,” says Animesh Kumar, Chief Solutioning Officer at iRunway. Such sensors and recognition processors play a key role in leveraging interactive hardware to provide better feedback and control in a virtual environment.

iRunway’s research identified 3,720 U.S. IP assets in VR/AR gaming technology. A majority of the IP assets relate to Data Processing technology. Microsoft, Immersion and Sony are pioneers in this space with a cumulative share of 25% within this domain. The demand for a greater immersive experience is also encouraging R&D in haptic feedback mechanisms, with Immersion Corporation and Microsoft leading this space with 150 and 46 IP assets respectively. “Interaction is key to humans. A user experiences a true immersive experience only when he can interact with objects in the virtual world. While the sense of touch is a predominant area of technology focus, there is much being researched to involve other key sensory perceptions, such as smell, to render the virtual experience more realistic,” says Animesh Kumar.

iRunway’s research identified ~300 published VR in gaming patents as seminal, or strong, with immense potential for monetization. The study found that 92% of Broadcom’s granted patents were seminal, followed by 77% of Mq Gaming’s portfolio.

After a hiatus in the early 2000s, patenting witnessed a spike after 2005. While companies such as Microsoft and Sony are charting a leadership path, early patentees such as Immersion Corporation, Nantworks and Broadcom own IP assets that are due to expire in the next few years.

R&D in VR for gaming technology witnessed a slack between the late 1990s and 2005 owing to slow progress in motion control and high cost of peripherals. However, the renewed curve in innovation is witnessing a string of high profile acquisitions. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift, HP’s acquisition of Mind Pirate, and Google’s acquisition of Owlchemy Labs marks key developments in this space.

AR and VR for gaming is becoming more affordable, and competition is only going to make it even more consumer-friendly. Patenting trends suggest that the technology is still on the lower end of the digital capability curve, with much left to explore. While speculations are rife on the dominance of which of the two concepts, patentees are looking to develop both simultaneously, with a strong focus on the capability of merging the two concepts into one of mixed reality for a more futuristic consumer market.

Click to download the report.

About iRunway

iRunway helps corporations, law firms and universities unlock and protect the value of patents by combining technology expertise with practical business insights to monetize patent portfolios and improve litigation outcomes. iRunway has offices in Austin, Santa Clara, Denver, New York and Bangalore (India).

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