SAN FRANCISCO—The market for acceleration and yaw sensors grew 7 percent in 2012, the lowest percentage increase for motion-sensing semiconductors since 2005, according to market research firm IC Insights Inc.
Despite slower growth, acceleration/yaw sensors—which are accelerometers and gyroscope devices primarily made with microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology—reached record-high sales of $2.54 billion in 2012, surpassing the previous peak of $2.37 billion in 2011, when market revenues rose 27 percent, according to IC Insights' latest report and forecast for the optoelectronics, sensors/actuators and discretes (OSD) market. IC Insights (Scottsdale, Ariz.) predicts that acceleration/yaw sensor sales will increase by 12 percent in 2013 to reach $2.84 billion. In 2014, sales are forecast to rise by an additional 19 percent to $3.39 billion, according to the firm. Between 2012 and 2017, acceleration/yaw sensor sales are projected to rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 17 percent, reaching $5.47 billion in 2017, IC Insights said.
Between 2007 and 2012, acceleration/yaw sensor sales grew by a CAGR of 24 percent, according to IC Insighs OSD report.
Since the 1990s, the use of MEMS-based accelerometers and gyroscope devices has expanded from automotive safety systems to new sensing applications in cellphones, tablet computers, video-game controllers, media players, and other portable consumer products, IC Insights said. A growing number of low-cost inertial sensors are being used to embed automated controls in portable products and support higher levels of system intelligence, based on measurements of movement, according to IC Insights.
Well, while I can not exactly state accelerometers had it coming, one has to wonder if the innovation pipeline has kept up with the glut of cheaper MEMS supply. To that end, it would serve the MEMS developers to spur ecosystems where innovation is nurtured. There is only so much that the handset and tablet makers can do... but for the accelerometers to proliferate on a larger scale as in IoT, I think smaller and nimble startups need to be supported.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.