The shipping industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increasing global trade and commerce and the need for efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable sea transportation solutions, as well as growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial and augmented intelligence, advanced vessel operation monitoring systems, and hydrogen fuel cells. In the last three years alone, there have been over 67,000 patents filed and granted in the shipping industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Ship: Marine seismic data acquisition. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 25,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the ship industry, there are 30+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Marine seismic data acquisition is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Marine seismic data acquisition is the method of collecting information about the subsea surface by generating sound pulses and recording echoes from the ocean floor. It is accomplished by using a seismic survey vessel that tows an array of sensors such as geophones or hydrophones in the water to map and records the geophysical attributes of the subsurface. Marine seismic data acquisition plays a crucial role in oil and gas exploration and offshore wind farm site characterisation.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established shipping companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of marine seismic data acquisition.

Key players in marine seismic data acquisition – a disruptive innovation in the shipping industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to marine seismic data acquisition

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
ION Geophysical 66 Unlock company profile
PGS 44 Unlock company profile
Polarcus 32 Unlock company profile
Geco Technology 30 Unlock company profile
CGG 23 Unlock company profile
Schlumberger 10 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 9 Unlock company profile
CGGVeritas Services 9 Unlock company profile
inApril 8 Unlock company profile
Kongsberg Gruppen 6 Unlock company profile
Magseis 5 Unlock company profile
Seafloor Geophysical Solutions 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

ION Geophysical, an offshore technology company based in the US, is the leading patent filer in the marine seismic data acquisition space. It filed patents related to systems and methods of positioning and dynamic steering of seismic devices, marine seismic surveying in icy or obstructed waters, intelligent towing cable reclaimers, and operating streamer recovery devices.

The company provided seismic imaging and data services to offshore energy companies. However, it filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2022. Sercel, a subsidiary of geoscience service company CGG, acquired ION Geophysical’s software business in September 2022.

Other leading innovators in marine seismic data acquisition include PGS, Polarcus, and Geco Technology.

In terms of application diversity, ION Geophysical leads the pack, followed by CGG and Magseis. By geographic reach, inApril is the leading company, followed by ION Geophysical and Geco Technology.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the shipping industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Shipping.

Premium Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.