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More handsets to pack MEMS gyroscopes

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? gyroscope? cellphone gyro market? interface?

The launch of Apple iPhone 4 spurred cellphone makers to add gyroscopes to their smart phone models to keep pace with human interface trends, leaving market forecasters to up their predictions on unit sales of MEMS gyroscope chips. Already shipping in millions of units per month for image stabilization in digital cameras, gaming controllers and for 3D mice, the new cellphone gyroscope market is predicted become even larger in just a few years.

With the iPhone 4 setting the trends in smart phones today, explosive grow in the market for gyroscopes is sure to follow, according to iSuppli Corp., which predicts that competitors will need to keep pace with Apple by adding gyroscopes to their smart phones, too, catapulting the market from zero in 2009 to 285 million units by 2014.

"Apple's role as a technology trendsetter" will result in increased shipments to "multitude mobile handset OEMs who are expected to offer smart phones that integrate gyroscopes," said Jeremie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, for MEMS at iSuppli. By 2014, Bouchaud predicts that the market for gyroscopes in cell phones will grow to $220 million.

The maker of the MEMS gyro used in the iPhone 4 is not yet known, since the device does not become available until June 24 and Apple does not reveal the identity of its suppliers. STMicroelectronics, Invensense and Analog Devices are all marketing MEMS gyroscopes suitable for mobile handsets, but iSuppli guesses that Apple is using ST's three-axis gyro, since the company is already the supplier of the MEMS accelerometers used in Apple's current iPhone 3GS, iPad and iPod Touch.

iSuppli predicts that unit shipments of MEMS gyroscopes will ramp up from zero in 2009 to 285 million in 2014.

"STMicroelectronics is [Apple's] sole supplier of accelerometers. Because of this, we believe that STMicroelectronics is also the supplier of the gyroscope in the iPhone 4," said Bouchaud.

Gyroscopes will also begin pioneering other mobile applications starting in 2012, according to Bouchaud, such as indoor navigational applications where a MEMS-gyro, -accelerometer, -compass and -barometric-pressure sensor will all be used together to sense location in a building with pinpoint accuracy.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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