After a decline during the past couple of years, the MEMS sensor market is back to its old strength, a report from IC Insights states. The recovery is due to the development of a new generation of devices and applications, with multi-sensor platforms, the Internet of Things, and wearable devices driving the demand.
The authors of the report expect the market for MEMS-based devices (including both sensors and actuators) to reach a total volume of $8.0 billion this year, which corresponds to a healthy growth rate of 14%. For the year ahead, the market watchers believe the market will further gain momentum, developing a growth rate of 16% and a total volume of $9.2 billion. For the entire time frame between 2013 and 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 11.7% is predicted. Given this rate, the market volume will reach a volume of $12.2 billion. Unit shipments will rise somewhat faster, at a pace of 14% during this period, which is not overly surprising given the usual price decline.
New applications will stop price erosion for MEMS sensors and actuators, IC Insights predicts.
The preceding half-decade was characterized by the introduction of sensors for interactive video games and smartphones such as accelerometers and gyro sensors. Typical applications were motion sensing, navigation, activity tracking, altimeters, and hand-gesture interfaces. Another source of growth was automotive electronics, where MEMS was used much more extensively in safety applications.
During this period, MEMS sensor sales grew much more quickly and more consistently than their actuator counterparts: While sensor sales performed at a CAGR of 19.2%, actuator revenues only rose at a pace of 2.8% per year. This difference will vanish, the IC Insights report predicts: During the five years, both MEMS categories will rise at an average rate of some 12% annually. The reason for the strong actuator market is that new applications such as disposable lab-on-chip for DNA analysis and infectious disease identification will see much higher acceptance.
The MEMS sensor market, hitherto focusing on a handful of applications, will become more diversified, the authors of the study find. New application fields will be tapped in consumer electronics, portable products, wearable systems, instrumentation, handheld test devices, home automation, and personal healthcare. The demand in these new markets with higher-priced designs will prevent the average selling price from eroding, the study predicts.