MEMS microphones, on the
other hand, are trending to multiple devices per application. For
instance, Apple Inc.'s iPhone 4 had only two microphones, but the iPhone
5 uses four MEMS microphones. Other smartphone, tablet, netbook and
laptop makers are following suite, studding the bezels around their
displays with MEMS microphones that lower noise, cancel echoes and
beam-steer their reception pattern to follow the voice as the user's
As a result, Bouchaud predicts that 1.8 billion MEMS
microphones will ship in 2012—more than double the 700 million that
shipped in 2010. And since every smartphone maker worldwide is compelled
to copy every capability that Apple introduces into its iPhone, the
MEMS microphone market is expected to grow to more than 4 billion units
by 2016, according to IHS.
To boot, by 2017 there will be 10 new
MEMS device types in mass production, resulting in a worldwide market
for MEMS devices of all types of over $21 billion, according to Yole.
The new MEMS types, which have already been invented but are following
the predicted decade-long development process, include pressure-based
altimeters, RF switches, oscillators, camera auto-focus mechanisms,
micro-displays, micro-speakers, thermopiles, environmental sensors,
touchscreens and joysticks.
Future applications of all these MEMS
devices will also vastly expand, according to Stephen Ohr, senior
analyst at Gartner Inc., including facial recognition, context aware
gesture recognition and personal medical monitoring.