Mobile micro sensors estimated to generate almost $8 billion by 2018: report

MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors are at the core of modern smartphones and tablets, in the form of microphones, cameras, and gyroscopes. A report by Juniper Research predicts that by 2018, they will generate almost $8 billion.

As the sales of mobile devices grow, so do the sales of mobile MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors. A new Juniper Research report suggests that the market for such components will grow to almost $8 billion in 2018.

Mobile MEMS sensors, which include components such as microphones, cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, are fundamental to mobile device functionality since they enable services such as augmented reality, context awareness and navigation.

One of the key drivers of MEMS sensors claims the report will be the emergence of wearable technology, devices related to health and fitness in particular. These devices will rely on MEMS sensor technology to carry out tasks such as measuring temperature, pressure, humidity, physical activity and other key aspects of the body.

Cameras are also expected to get better, and offer features such as multiple points of focus.

"With Apple and Samsung paving the way, device manufacturers are integrating multiple sensors, and combining these to enable future service," wrote the report author Nitin Bhas in a statement to ZDNet. "The need for better performance and stronger device specifications, in order to provide service differentiation, are driving the demand for sensor integration. This means the industry will witness greater levels of innovation in terms of MEMS-based components and sensors in the mobile device area."

There are a lot of ifs and buts when trying to predict as far out as 2018. Five years is a long time in computing. Five years ago not only had no one outside of Apple dreamt of the iPad, but even the iPhone was still quite embryonic. A lot of things could happen in that time. Here are a few other scenarios:

  • The mobile market plateaus and the PC regains traction, thereby cooling off the MEMS market. While this might seem unlikely, five years ago no one would have predicted that the PC market would stall in the way that it has.
  • Wearables take off in a big way, with Google Glass leading to Kindle Glass and iGlass, giving MEMS sensors an even bigger boost.
  • New classes of devices emerge, fueling even greater demand for MEMS.

I think that while there's a small chance that the mobile market could plateau — something which seems quite unlikely given their expansion into developing markets — what's more likely is that MEMS sensors will play a key role in upcoming tech, and that the companies that supply them will enjoy a period of rapid growth.