The inventors who serve as the backbone of International Business Machines Corp. passed a significant milestone this year, and a diverse array of fields including artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud, and cyber security are all the richer for it.
The Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant used this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a platform to celebrate the registration of a record-breaking 9043 patents last year – the 25th year in a row it could boast the highest number of additions to the U.S. patent list – by more than 8500 researchers, engineers, scientists, and designers across 47 countries.
“For the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing,” IBM chair, president, and CEO Ginni Rometty said in a Jan. 9 statement. “Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”
Among the sectors represented by this year’s list of patents:
- Cloud: More than 1900 of IBM’s patents last year were related to the cloud, including a system that monitors data sources, including news feeds, network statistics, weather reports, and social networks, and applies that knowledge to local or world news events to forecast cloud resource needs.
- Artificial Intelligence: More than 1400 patents related to artificial intelligence, including a system that addresses an AI’s lack of personalization by helping it analyze and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication.
- Cyber Security: 1200 patents related to cyber security, including an AI system that turns the table on hackers by baiting them into email exchanges and websites that waste their resources and block their attacks, potentially reducing the security risks associated with “phishing” emails and other attacks.
- Quantum Computing: An IBM specialty, the company has developed a new way to improve a quantum computer’s ability to acquire and retain information, which could lead to fewer components being necessary to build a quantum computing system.
Other patented innovations from IBM inventors in 2017 include:
- A machine learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver in emergencies.
- A method of securely settling transactions between multiple business parties using blockchain technology.
- A technique that automatically elevates a mobile device’s security protection of whenever said device is far away from its owner and likely under someone else’s control.
In all, IBM has registered 105,000 U.S. patents between 1993 and 2017, including as secure credit card transactions, earthquake detectors, and radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled guides for the visually impaired.