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Consumer apps move MEMS market to Asia

Posted: 07 Jan 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  accelerometer  gyroscope  sensor 

The markets for microelectromechanical system (MEMS) inertial sensors, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, are large and growing rapidly. Estimates for 2011 place the worldwide market for such devices in the range of Rs.8,934.03 crore ($2 billion) to Rs.13,401.04 crore ($3 billion). Even during the recent global recession, which substantially depressed overall microelectronics sales, MEMS inertial sensors in the consumer electronics markets continued to grow.

The growth is being driven by increasing adoption of inertial sensors in an ever-widening array of products. Specific markets of great importance to suppliers of MEMS inertial sensors include mobile handsets, game controllers, personal navigation devices, hard disc drives in portable electronic products, certain medical devices, and automobiles. As recently as five years ago, one would be hard-pressed to find a MEMS accelerometer in a consumer-electronic device. Airbag systems for automobiles had adopted the technology, a single-axis high-g-range accelerometer to replace a bulky expensive electromechanical impact-detection device, but the promise of widespread adoption in high-volume consumer electronics had just begun.

Gregory J. Galvin

Galvin: There are numerous and growing challenges associated with MEMS inertial sensors, a few of which present their own opportunities.

In 2011, each of the leading suppliers will deliver to their consumer-electronics customers sophisticated three-axis accelerometers, and increasingly, gyroscopes as well, in volumes of hundreds of millions of units. As the focus for the industry has shifted from automotive to consumer electronics, the geographic focus of the industry has moved from Europe and North America to Asia.

The robust vitality of the MEMS inertial sensor markets presents an obvious opportunity as we look to the new year. However, there are numerous and growing challenges associated with this industry, a few of which present their own opportunity in solving the challenge.

Challenges to MEMS sensors
One of the primary challenges is the aggressive reduction in average selling price (ASP) for these devices, averaging in the range of 20 per cent and 25 per cent per year. Although the ever-lower ASP is a major contributor to the growing adoption rate, it presents an enormous challenge to the suppliers of such products to find ways to reduce their costs.

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