Chinese Big Tech takes lead in metaverse technologies with AR/VR patents

The news: Chinese monoliths Tencent and Baidu led the world in VR and AR patent applications in 2020 and 2021.

Why it’s worth watching: Outsized interest in AR and VR patents points to China’s surging interest in metaverse or AR/VR-related products and services, per the South China Morning Post. 

  • Tencent, owner of the world’s largest video-gaming business and China’s leading social media network, filed 4,085 VR- and AR-related patents, ranking second in the world behind Samsung, which has 4,094 filings.
  • Baidu, China’s search giant, wasn’t far behind, taking the third spot with 3,094 VR and AR patent applications in the past two years.
  • Other notable Chinese technology companies that have filed AR/VR patents include Oppo, Ping An insurance, SenseTime, and Huawei, which was once the world’s No. 1 smartphone maker. 

The bigger picture: China’s biggest technology companies are positioning themselves as innovators in the metaverse. While not all of these patents will yield products or technologies, the sheer number of submissions reflects an active movement to own the AR/VR future.

  • US technology companies lagged behind in VR and AR patents in the past two years, which could be an indicator that companies like Meta, which is the proponent of all things metaverse, is resting on its laurels with technologies it owns through acquisitions
  • Xbox and HoloLens maker Microsoft ranked 10th in the world with 2,108 AR/VR patent applications, the most filed by any US firm in the past two years, per IPRdaily report.

The takeaway: Its large AR/VR patent stockpile could result in China owning technologies and inventions that can build various metaverse-related products and services and result in reliance from the rest of the world. 

Dig deeper: Want to learn more about the metaverse? Check out our recently published Metaverse Primer here.