Research and innovation in internet of things in the retail sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of IoT related patent applications in the industry stood at 66 in the three months ending February – down from 85 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to IoT followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 104 in the three months ending February 2021 to 70 in the same period in 2022.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

IoT is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector. Inc was the top IoT innovator in the retail sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in China, filed 24 IoT related patents in the three months ending February. That was up from 19 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United States based Inc with 13 IoT patent applications, China based Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (11 applications), and the United States based NIKE Inc (9 applications). Inc has recently ramped up R&D in IoT. It saw growth of 20.8% in related patent applications in the three months ending February compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the retail sector.