The global market for low-power wireless modules serving up quick, wireless turnkey solutions is poised to see double-digit growth in 2014, according to a new report released by market intelligence analysis firm IHS Technology.
The growth will be spurred by wide adoption in applications such as residential automation as well as consumer electronics.
Worldwide revenue for the low-power wireless modules market will reach $1.4 billion this year, up a robust 14 percent from $1.23 billion in 2013. This will be the third consecutive year of expansion for the market in the double digits, to be repeated for a fourth and final time next year, after which growth moderates slightly to the mid and high single digits.
Low-power wireless modules play an important role in the wireless ecosystem, providing a turnkey solution that includes a radio, microcontroller, nonvolatile memory, and antenna -- all in a small, affordable package, says Lee Ratliff, principal analyst for connectivity at IHS.
Modules are popular in low-volume applications because they eliminate the high, non-recurring development expenses associated with radio frequency (RF) design, verification, and certification, Ratliff noted. Here modules can offer manufacturers a short-cut around often lengthy development times.
But modules also find favor in devices that ship in millions of units, Ratliff added, because they simplify manufacturing and increase flexibility. A single module design, for instance, can be reused across multiple product SKUs, easing the headache of supporting numerous unique RF designs while reducing supply chain complexity and risk.
Modules can also give life to an old product by upgrading the wireless performance without changing the overall hardware design of the product.
The fastest-growing markets for low-power wireless modules in the years to come will be in sports and fitness monitoring, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49 percent. Other important markets of note are consumer electronics with a CAGR of 36 percent, automotive with 32 percent, and residential automation with 30 percent, IHS data shows.
All told, the underlying growth in the use of low-power wireless technologies in these markets will be the primary reason for the increase in shipments of low-power wireless modules. A secondary reason for expansion is the high rate of module use in rapidly growing technologies like Bluetooth Smart, EnOcean, ZigBee RF4CE, and Z-Wave.
An important trend in the adoption of low-power wireless technology is the move away from proprietary protocols, Ratliff observed. Proprietary protocols made up 88 percent of module shipments in 2011, but they will only account for about 50 percent by 2018.