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Detecting signals of new technological opportunities using semantic patent analysis and outlier detection

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In the competitive business environment, early identification of technological opportunities is crucial for technology strategy formulation and research and development planning. There exist previous studies that identify technological directions or areas from a broad view for technological opportunities, while few studies have researched a way to detect distinctive patents that can act as new technological opportunities at the individual patent level. This paper proposes a method of detecting new technological opportunities by using subject–action–object (SAO)-based semantic patent analysis and outlier detection. SAO structures are syntactically ordered sentences that can be automatically extracted by natural language processing of patent text; they explicitly show the structural relationships among technological components in a patent, and thus encode key findings of inventions and the expertise of inventors. Therefore, the proposed method allows quantification of structural dissimilarities among patents. We use outlier detection to identify unusual or distinctive patents in a given technology area; some of these outlier patents may represent new technological opportunities. The proposed method is illustrated using patents related to organic photovoltaic cells. We expect that this method can be incorporated into the research and development process for early identification of technological opportunities.

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This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MEST) (No. 2009-0088379).

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Correspondence to Kwangsoo Kim.

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Yoon, J., Kim, K. Detecting signals of new technological opportunities using semantic patent analysis and outlier detection. Scientometrics 90, 445–461 (2012).

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