IBM earned for the 26th year in a row more patents than any other company in the US during the year of 2018. The record number, 9,100, includes a growing number of inventions related to artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which many people see as critical technologies of the future. Samsung was second with 5,850 patents while tech giants Apple and Microsoft also appeared in the top ten.
Among the more than 1,600 AI-related patents IBM secured during 2018 was one for Project Debater, a tool that uses machine learning techniques to simulate real life debates on a wide for variety of topics. IBM goes on to explain that the work in these and other areas often begins long before there is any associated practical enterprise uses for the technology the company is probing. The company throughout the year explored many disparate areas of technology — such as ways to promote health and safety, patenting methods for smart wearables to communicate with electronic components embedded in prostheses, from hearing aids to prosthetic arms.
In addition to AI and quantum computing, IBM received numerous patents for cloud computing and also one for blockchain.