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MEMS combo sensor market rides sustained uptrend

Posted: 20 Mar 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  sensor  mobile  IHS 

The glut of mobile products in the market has been, for the past two years, a considerable boon for the MEMS combo sensor industry, which IHS reported is set for a continued substantial growth this year with a 37 per cent revenue increase. The robust growth is expected to continue, with sales reaching $1.03 billion at a 23 per cent CAGR by 2017.

IHS said that although the market expects another growth spurt, it has already reached a substantial size. The MEMS sensor combo market hit an unprecedented high in 2012 with 418 per cent increase, followed by a strong 98 per cent in 2013. This year, the global revenue in consumer and mobile applications is projected to climb to $608.2 million from $443 million.

"The main reason for the success of combo sensors is their convenience," Jeremie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, said in a press release. "They are expedient for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) who can buy just one device instead of two or three separate MEMS sensors. They also lend themselves to easy implementation as all combo sensors can be sold as plug-and-play solutions with their embedded sensor fusion algorithms, making for easier, more elegant deployment."

2014 MEMS combo sensors forecast

Combo sensors, which deliver an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and pressure sensor in a MEMS package, are a must-have for smartphone makers. Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, said in the release that six-axis inertial measurement units (IMUs) accounted for 79 per cent of combo sensor revenue last year. These devices bring together a three-axis accelerometer and a three-axis gyroscope. Six-axis compass IMUs, which combine a magnetometer or electronic compass with an accelerometer, were the second-largest category last year and generated $85 million in sales.

Smartphones and tablets represented 95 per cent of the market for combo sensors and will continue to take up the lion's share of sales for the foreseeable future, IHS said. Six-axis IMUs have largely taken the place of discrete gyroscopes in devices like smartphones and tablets for several OEMs. Samsung was the largest combo sensor consumer last year. By 2017, these applications will still represent four out of five combo sensor sales.

Samsung spent $183 million for combo sensors in 2013, representing 41 per cent of the market's total revenue for that year. Its purchases included 6-axis IMUs from STMicroelectronics for the Galaxy S4 smartphone; from InvenSense for the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone; and from Bosch for some Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablets.

STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch collectively accounted for 99 per cent of the MEMS combo sensor market in the same year. STM ranked first with a 40 per cent share, shadowed by InvenSense with 38 per cent, and finally, Bosch finished third with its $86 million revenue.

The next biggest opportunity for combo sensors is in wearable electronics. Six-axis IMUs are already found in smart watches such as Samsung's Galaxy Gear. Nine-axis IMUs have also made inroads, most prominently in Google Glass. Gaming is another frontier for MEMS sensors as they are integrated into consoles and handheld devices.

- Hailey Lynne McKeefry
  EE Times





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