How to Predict the Future

"The future is happening, it is not evenly distrubted."

In order to anticipate the future we have to have a good understanding of what has happened in the past and what is happening now. Technology innovations are the driving force for the new products and services that will be introduced. Thus, understanding technology development trends can increase the chance of correctly predicting the future. However, we are overwhelmed by a large amount of information already. How can we get a clear and concise look at the technology development trends?

Here I want to show you how I use inno360 as a tool to identify the technology development trends in energy storage technology domain. I used inno360 to find that in the last 12 months there were nearly 300 published patents that included “energy storage” or “battery” in their claims. By analyzing these 300 patents with IBM Watson technology—which is incorporated in inno360 to analyze relevant information and produce insights—I got the following concept heat map. The picture speaks for itself, the red colored areas are the focuses for the last 12 months. Each dot represents an individual patent. Reading the heat map is similar to reading a regular geographical map.heatmap

There are 9 red zones in this map:

  1. Electrical chemical research
  2. Electrical system for vehicles’ drivetrain
  3. Energy conversion for hybrid vehicles
  4. Mobile energy storage system
  5. Control system for energy storage
  6. Energy storage for renewable energy
  7. Electrical magnetic energy
  8. Multilevel power converter
  9. Energy harvesting from thermal and kinetic energy

We can tell more details from the map, such as red zones 2, 3, 4, 5 are highly related to EVs; red zones 6, 7, 8, 9 are related to sustainability; electrical chemical research for energy storage is still the main focus, etc.

There are multiple ways to utilize the insights. We can either estimate the value of a particular technology by bench marking it with the identified trends, or we can focus on an enabling technology that is in a less competitive space to gain more advantages.

If you have an interesting topic and want to get some insights, feel free to send me an email ( and I will put what I can find out in my next post.


inno360—Deployed as a cloud-based innovation management platform to leading R&D groups around the world.

IBM Watson—IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.

Qian Li, PhD