The EPO published in December 2017 a report titled, âPatents and the Fourth Industrial Revolutionâ (available here). The report looks into the new era of technological development, characterised by digitalisation and the storage and management of big data, what has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), or Industry 4.0. The goal of the report is to provide a first cartography of this dynamic technological field on the basis of patent activity (based on data available until 2016).
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
The term Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) describes technology that allows the full integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the context of manufacturing and as applied to such areas as personal, home, vehicle, enterprise and infrastructure. 4IR allows the combined use of digitisation, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which allows connectivity between smart objects, thereby enabling autonomous operation.
Smart objects are able to receive and use massive data sets (big data), store enormous quantities of data, and extract value from them. By means of this new technology, vast amounts of data may be used, inter alia, to interpret patterns, draw conclusions, and provide diagnosis. What is also new under the 4IR is that technology progresses, by means of developments in the field of software innovation, with hardware components playing only a secondary role.
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