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Analyst: MEMS sensor market to bounce back to all time high

Posted: 15 Jul 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IC Insights  sensor  MEMS  actuator  Internet of Things 

IC Insights has forecasted that novel multi-sensor platforms, wearable systems and Internet of Things will drive total MEMS semiconductor sales to $8 billion this year. For most of the last decade, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology spread quickly into high-volume electronic products, accounting for 70 per cent of today's semiconductor sensor sales, but MEMS has suffered growing pains in the last two years with total device sales falling one per cent in 2012 and being flat in 2013 at $7 billion.

Price erosion in MEMS-based sensors, especially accelerometers and gyroscope devices used in smartphones and other portable products, along with slower unit growth have caused this segment to languish. However, new multi-sensor platforms, wearable systems and the rush to connect things to the Internet are reigniting sales again, according to the market research firm.

Total MEMS-based semiconductor sales, sensors and actuators, are forecast to grow 14 per cent in 2014 to reach a record-high of $8 billion, surpassing the annual peak of $7.1 billion set in 2011, stated IC Insights. The report shows MEMS-based sensor and actuator sales climbing 16 per cent in 2015 to $9.2 billion.

Between 2013 and 2018, MEMS sensor and actuator sales are projected to rise by a CAGR of 11.7 per cent reaching $12.2 billion in five years compared to a CAGR of 9.8 per cent in the 2008-2013 period. Unit shipments of MEMS semiconductors are expected to grow by a CAGR of 14 per cent in the forecast period, going from 4.8 billion devices in 2013 to 9.3 billion in 2018. In the 2008-2013 period, MEMS-based semiconductor unit growth surged by a CAGR of 23 per cent. This growth was driven by the introduction of accelerometers and gyro sensors into smartphone handsets for intelligent control and motion-sensing applications for navigation and a range of new uses such as activity tracking, health monitoring and hand-gesture interfaces.

Tiny microelectromechanical structures etched and layered into silicon on MEMS semiconductors are used to perform transducer functions for sensing and measurement of changes around devices or instigate physical action from electronic signals. MEMS is employed in acceleration and yaw sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes), pressure sensors (including altimeter and microphone chips), and a variety of actuators (for inkjet printer nozzles, micro-mirrors in digital projectors and displays, timekeeping oscillators, radio-frequency filters and switches and biochips).

MEMS-based actuator/sensor growth

Roller-coaster growth rates in the large-but-fragmented actuators category has held back overall sales in MEMS semiconductors in the last 10 years, but sensors have been more consistent in climbing higher.

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