Hungarian Academy of Sciences researchers have developed a data-mining tool that automatically helps predict emerging technologies.
The tool works by analyzing the frequency with which patents are cited by other patents. The researchers say that by plotting how the frequency of these citations changes over time shows that patents can be grouped into related clusters, which in turn can evolve, sometimes branching into new disciplines and other times merging with one another.
The researchers, led by Peter Erdi, have developed software that charts this evolution, as well as looks into the future on the rate and type of citations to help predict whether existing technologies can lead to new areas of innovation.
"Patent-citation data seems to be a gold mine of new insights into the development of technologies, since it represents the innovation process," Erdi says.
In making innovation slightly more predictable, the researchers aim to remove some of the risk in futurism. "It sounds like a great antenna for what is happening in the marketplace, and the kind of discussions people are having," says Ford Motor futurist Sheryl Connelly.
From New Scientist
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