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Gyroscopes sizzle handsets, gaming apps

Posted: 01 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? gyroscope? consumer electronics? cellphone?

When Nintendo Co. moved to enhance the sensitivity of its motion-sensitive video-game controllers, it turned to 3-axis gyroscope technology in the form of its Wii Motionplus add-on.

Soon, a flood of other companies in the consumer electronics and cellphone markets also are expected to turn to MEMS gyroscopes due to technological developments that have made these parts more attractive for such applications, iSuppli Corp. predicts. This will cause gyroscope revenue in these areas to more than double by 2013.

The global market for gyroscopes used in CE and cell phones will expand to $347.2 million in 2013, up from $152.9 million in 2008.

"Gyroscopes have always been too big, too power hungry and too expensive for mobile and consumer applications," said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS at iSuppli. "However, recent progress on silicon and quartz gyroscopes has changed the gameliterally. MEMS gyroscopes will penetrate gaming applications in much larger numbers later this year and in 2010. These sensors will also begin to make inroads into the mobile-phone market earlier than first anticipatedagain beginning at the end 2009 or early in 2010for image stabilization and user interfaces."

Gearing for market boom
A major driver behind the expansion of the gyroscope market is the flourishing number of offerings of multi-axis parts. Previously, there were just two major suppliers of 2-axis gyroscopes: Panasonic Corp. and InvenSense Inc. However, a third player emerged in June in the form of STMicroelectronics, which bolstered its portfolio by offering no less than 10 dual-axis gyroscopes. Tri-axis gyroscopes, a must for gaming, also are emerging.

While InvenSense already offers a two-package 3-axis gyroscope solution today, STMicroelectronics intends to introduce a monolithic solution in 2010. iSuppli anticipates that revenue from shipments of multi-axis gyroscopes for consumer and wireless applications will overtake single-axis devices by the end of the year and will account for 80 percent of the consumer gyroscope market by 2013.

"This represents a great opportunity for companies offering multi-axis gyroscopes and even parts combined with 3-axis accelerometers in low-cost inertial measurement units," Dixon said. "On the other hand, this will put pressure on those companies that only have a single-axis technology on their shelves."

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