Google, Apple Buying Up Tech Patents To Prepare for Smarter Cars

Jan 02, 2014 11:42 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma (

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The Google logo as seen in 2013. (Photo : Reuters)

In an age where nearly everyone has a smartphone, the smartcar seems to be the natural next step, which is likely why Google, Apple and other tech companies have been busy buying up patents to use in the next wave of car connectivity.

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Google has 310 patents in the United States for such innovations as smart devices for cars and navigation, while Apple has 36 such patents, Forbes reported.

These numbers were revealed in a new report from EnvisionIP, a New York City patent-analysis firm. According to the study, seven tech companies altogether have been collecting patents in the hopes of taking the auto industry by storm.

Besides Apple and Google, the report found that Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia and BlackBerry are buying technology patents as they attempt to become "leading innovators in the smart vehicle and hybrid/electric vehicle space."

While a majority of Google's patents were obtained through the tech giant's acquisition of Motorola Motors, the company has developed its own innovations as well.

One intriguing example is the patent application Google took out for "Gesture-based automotive controls," which Google engineers have defined as tapping, pinching or waving, according to Forbes. The patent is pending approval.

Two other car-related tech patents obtained by Google are "Modifying behavior of autonomous vehicle based on predicted behavior of other vehicles" and "Panoramic images within driving directions," according to the report.

Google will display its auto tech capabilities at next week's Consumer Electronics Show.

Reportedly teaming up with German carmaker Audi, the company will announce plans for a new infotainment system based on Android software at the event, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The collaborations with Audi and other tech companies stand as Google's response to Apple's recent initiative to integrate iPhones and other iOS-operating devices into vehicle dashboards, according to WSJ.

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