Steady filing of patents in relation to air conditioners that adjust to users’ preferences
Recently, air conditioners are not only being used for cooling in the summer but are also being used throughout the year for uses including as air purifiers for protection against fine dust and as heaters in winter. Especially, human body detection sensors and AI technologies are being incorporated into such machines in order to understand users’ conditions and life patterns, etc. From this, these machines have developed as smart devices providing comfortable indoor environments for users while consuming the smallest amount of energy.
According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO, Commissioner, Park Won-joo), patent applications in relation to controlling air conditioner operation by using human body detection sensors and AI technologies have been continuously filed over the last 10 years (from 2009 to 2018) and total 146 cases.
Regarding applicants, 126 cases involve domestic applicants (86.3%) and 20 cases are from foreign applicants (13.7%). Meanwhile, conglomerates filed 90 cases (61.6%), small and medium-sized businesses filed 24 cases (16.4%) and universities filed 9 cases (6.2%).
<Trend of number of application cases and type of applicant by year (from 2009 to 2019>
□ Number of application cases in the field of controlling air conditioners utilizing human body detection sensors by year
□ Domestic application rates in the field of controlling air conditioners utilizing human body detection sensors by applicants
The reason for the high percentage of applications filed by domestic conglomerates is assumed to be that they lead technology development in the field of smart appliances, including for air conditioners.
The trend of the development of air conditioners in which human body detection sensors are incorporated shows that, previously, such involved a simple method in which a sensor detected the entrance of a human and then simply turned an air conditioner on or off. However, starting in 2010, applications began to be filed in relation to customized control technologies for air conditioners such as from providing a breeze mode to prevent “air-conditioningitis” to providing concentrated turbo air-conditioning in consideration of the number of people inside a house, their positions, body temperatures and activities by utilizing cameras.
Meanwhile, applications related to smart control systems with additional AI technologies have been increasing ever since Go AI AlphaGo became popular in 2016. For example, an artificial intelligence learns a user’s living spaces, life patterns, surrounding environment, etc. by itself and provides optimized indoor environment which suits the user’s current circumstances.
The Household Appliances Examination Division in KIPO stated that “air conditioners have become four season smart household appliances equipped with humidity adjusting and air purifying functions besides cooling and heating. Also, it is anticipated that applications will increasingly be filed in the future in relation to technologies which are able to provide pleasant indoor environments customized to individual users by utilizing artificial intelligence technology while at the same time reducing energy consumption.