Seoul, South Korea, is home to some of the most innovative tech companies in the world, one of which is LG Electronics (S. Korea: KRX). LG Electronics may not have the largest share of consumer electronics markets, even in its own country, but the corporation has lately been a patenting behemoth. LG was awarded the 5th most U.S. patent grants during 2013 and was one of only five companies to eclipse 3,000 patents awarded in that year; LG still played second fiddle to Samsung, which was 2nd place last year with 4,652 patents.
The corporation also recently announced some executive realignments and the creation of a consolidated LG Home Appliance & Air Solution Company, which is expected to enable the corporation to better develop home-based technologies. LG has been establishing a major presence in the global smartphone market and maintains a 3rd-place share of that market, well behind of Apple and Samsung. In the third quarter of 2014, the company also earned its largest portion of the North American smartphone market to date, capturing 16.3 percent of that sector by selling 16.8 million smartphones.
The Companies We Follow series is always interested in covering those companies filing for an incredible number of patents and LG Electronics is one of the most active organizations in the world in this regard. Patent applications which we noted today discuss a variety of alternative energy systems, from solar cells to improved battery systems for electric vehicles. We also took note of a few novel home appliances, including a hand-held laundry treatment device for removing spots of dirt from clothing.
The recent patents acquired by LG Electronics provide an amazing array of technologies to peruse. While not specifically the focus of this article, we did find a patent directed at a technological improvement to robotic floor cleaners. We also found refrigerator innovations, including a slide-out drawer for a bottom refrigeration compartment that reduces the amount of cold air lost when the fridge is open. Systems for broadcasting traffic information and a pharmaceutical treatment for necrosis and associated diseases was also the subject of recently acquired patents by LG. For more on recent LG patents please see LG Receives Patents on Robotic Cleaners, Refrigerators and Smartwatches.
LG Electronics’ Recently Published Patent Applications
Innovations that come from the research facilities of LG Electronics are heavily focused in the area of consumer electronics, from home appliances to smartphones. LG is in a heavily competitive field in consumer technologies situated in South Korea where Samsung has been king; in 2013, Samsung’s revenues were about four times larger than LG’s, and LG trails behind Samsung in sales of smartphones and other consumer electronics. Still, LG receives a great amount of recognition for its innovations. In November, the company was honored with 10 2015 International CES Innovation Awards for its products in four different categories, including video displays, computer peripherals, home appliances and wireless handsets. At the 2014 IFA industrial exhibition in Germany, LG’s “Innovation for a Better Life” campaign, along with some intriguing wearable gadgets, was introduced to consumers.
Even with all of their focus on consumer electronics and home appliances, LG still has R&D resources involved in other areas of technology, such as improved systems for electric vehicles. Better methods of providing information about a battery’s state of charge within an electric vehicle to a driver are at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140358460, which is titled Electric Vehicle and Method for Controlling Same. This patent application would protect an electric battery including a cluster that calculates and displays a final state of charge and a battery management system for transmitting raw state of charge data to the cluster at predetermined times. This innovation is designed to transmit state of charge data more regularly so that data errors don’t build up and a driver feels anxiety when the charge reading displayed drops quickly.
Battery innovations for electric vehicles are also the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140342202, filed under the title Battery-Cooling System for an Electric Vehicle. This patent application claims a battery-cooling system that comprises a battery case with a plurality of rooms, a cell module assembly installed within each of the rooms and a battery-cooling unit which introduces cool air into each of the rooms in the case and discharges hot air through suction. This system is designed to efficiently cool an electric vehicle batteries which are increasingly becoming more lightweight and compact.
LG has also made forays into the realm of alternative energies to design and develop solar cells to be manufactured by the company. One of these technologies has been filed with the USPTO through U.S. Patent Application No. 20140357008, entitled Method of Manufacturing Solar Cell and Method of Forming Doping Region. The method of manufacturing a solar cell claimed by this patent involves forming a doping region with portions containing different doping concentrations which are simultaneously formed while forming an electrode to the solar cell. This innovation was pursued to improve upon conventional solar cell manufacturing methods by providing a simpler means for forming a doping region which results in less risk of the forming of a manufacturing defect.
As we mentioned, home appliances are an area of recent R&D focus for LG Electronics, and we found a couple of patent applications in this field that support this claim. A novel apparatus for cleaning clothes contaminated with dirt and other soil is disclosed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140352366, filed under the title Portable Laundry Treating Apparatus. The patent application claims a hand-held laundry treating apparatus with a portable body having a liquid storage part, a water chamber, a detergent chamber and a suction chamber which receives water from a liquid transferring part. The resulting invention is a portable laundry treatment device used for removing dirt from patches of clothing.
LG is also seeking to protect improvements to indoor air heating and cooling systems which we took a closer look at in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140345835, which is titled Indoor Unit for Air Conditioner. The indoor air conditioning unit claimed by the patent application contains a heat exchanger, a fan and a front panel with a discharge part and a guide device serving to direct air from the fan towards the discharge part. This air conditioning unit is configured so that a smaller heat exchanger can be constructed, allowing a smaller unit to be constructed and lowering manufacturing costs.
One of LG’s many consumer product lines is televisions and these should perform better when displaying broadcast signals thanks to the technology outlined within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140355723, entitled Digital Broadcasting System and Method of Processing Data in Digital Broadcasting System. The method of receiving a broadcast signal that would be protected involves demodulating a broadcast signal comprised of a plurality of frames and decoding signal information from the frames which includes both an identifier of a data transmission unit and a code rate of the data transmission. This invention is designed to provide a data processing method for a digital broadcast system which results in high resistance to channel change and noise, preventing the deterioration of signal receiving performance in receiving systems.
Wireless systems for transmitting power instead of data are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140354223, titled Wireless Power Transfer Method, Wireless Power Transmitter and Wireless Charging System. This invention seeks to bridge wireless power transmission systems using different standards like WPC1.1 and PMA1.1, different consortium standards in wireless power transfer technologies for items like electric toothbrushes or other wireless powered appliances. The patent application claims a wireless power transmitter configured to transfer power to a wireless power receiver; the power transmitter includes a controller which detects the communication standard with which the wireless power receiver is compliant and controls the electronic connection of the capacitors to adjust the operating frequency of wireless power transfer components.
UPDATED at 11:34am ~ An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the author. The author of this article is Steven Brachmann.