SAN FRANCISCO — The value of light and proximity sensors used in mobile handsets and tablets is set to grow rapidly in the coming years due to increased use by the likes of Samsung and Apple, according to a new report by market research firm IHS.
According to IHS, revenue for these types of sensors in handsets and tablets is projected to grow by 41 percent this year, reaching $782.2 million, up from $551.1 million in 2012. The firm predicts that the market will grow by a double-digit percentage each year for the next three years, reaching $1.3 billion in 2017.
Overall, the compound annual growth rate for these types of sensors is forecast to be 19 percent from 2012 to 2017, IHS said. Light and proximity sensors are used in tablets and handsets to detect a user's presence and to optimize display brightness and color rendering.
"The continued growth of the smartphone and tablet markets serves as the foundation of a bright future for light sensors," said Marwan Boustany, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS.
Boustany said the growth is being driven largely by Apple and Samsung. Apple pioneered the use of these sensors in its handsets and tablets, adding a red, green, blue (RGB), and a proximity sensor to iPhone 4 in 2012, and Samsung later took the lead in their usage, Boustany said.
Last year, Samsung and Apple combined accounted for more than 50 percent of light sensor revenue last year, IHS said. Samsung overtook Apple as the leading buyer of these types of sensors after its sensor purchases increased by 90 percent between 2011 and 2012, IHS said.
Austrian-based AMS is one of the leading suppliers of these types of sensors via its Taos unit in Texas, which supplies to Apple, according to IHS. Other leading suppliers include Taiwan's Capella Microsystems, the top light-sensor supplier to Samsung, IHS said. Together, AMS and Capella supply more than half of the light sensor market, according to the firm.
Other important sensor makers include Avago Technologies and Japan's Sharp, IHS said.
In addition to being used in handsets and tablets, light sensors are also utilized in various other applications, including consumer electronics devices, televisions, laptops, home automation, medical electronics and other applications.