SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Micro-electro-mechanical-systems (MEMS) have revolutionized every market in which they have become successful, but the trend is just beginning, according to analysts speaking on a panel at the MEMS Executive Congress 2012 here.
Analysts project rapid growth for the types of MEMS already in widespread use. But, by later this decade, several more types of MEMS devices are expected to be in production, creating more potential for exponential growth.
MEMS have revolutionized consumer electronics—first with accelerometers that automatically switch from portrait-to-landscape orientation for smartphones and tablets—and, more recently, enabling a vast emerging market for motion-controlled apps, location-based services and augmented reality. Jean-Christophe Eloy, Yole Development's president and CEO, predicts the market for MEMS devices in smartphones and tablets will at a 19.8 percent rate to reach over $5 billion by 2017.
Despite the enormous size of the MEMS market, analysts claim that only three types of MEMS devices are responsible for most of the volume—bulk-acoustic-wave (BAW) filters, motion sensors (accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers) and the latest MEMS darling, microphones.
News MEMS devices take a decade to mature (right) with the bulk of next-generation MEMS innovations still in the formative stages (left).
Source: Yole Development
MEMS mics were first
announced in 2002, but it took until 2012 for them to pass 50 percent
penetration of the consumer electronics market, according to Jérémie
Bouchaud, senior principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS iSuppli.
The bad news for maturing markets, such as motion sensors, is that the consumer device makers are demanding lower prices, forcing MEMS makers to cut costs and consolidate their accelerometer, gyroscopes and magnetometers into a single package that sells for no more than a single type of device just a few years ago.