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Consumer, car industries push sensor, NFC markets

Posted: 24 Aug 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:automotive industry? consumer market? sensors? NFC?

Databeans Inc. has observed that the sensors market is growing considerably faster than the semiconductor market. In fact, the company predicts that the sensor market will have a 10 percent CAGR, with average unit prices decreasing by one percent through 2016. Contactless smart cards and NFC transceivers are also growing strong with an estimated 20 percent CAGR in the same period.

The two strongest market segments affecting the sensor industry are the consumer and the automotive industry. The revenue for sensors in the consumer market segment is forecasted to increase to $853 million by the end of 2012 and $203 million for the automotive segment. These two segments constitute 40 percent of the sensors market alone. New technologies and government regulations being developed now are only going to increase these numbers as time progresses.

The consumer segment is being driven by high demand for smartphones and tablet PCs. Although not a new phenomenon, the new sensors that will soon be added to the products will make them even more desirable to consumers, Databeans noted. Most of these products today already include gyroscopes, accelerometers, touch sensors, GPS and magnetic field sensors.

In addition, the automotive market is pushing the growth of electronic applications. The sensors market is experiencing an immediate push because of NHTSA regulations that mandate Electronic Stability Systems (ESC) and Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) for every new vehicle that rolls off the production line. Fuel economy and emissions standards have also increased the demand for exhaust temperature sensors in vehicle applications. These same regulations will soon be adopted worldwide and create some of the growth that will be seen in the automotive sensors market.

Manufacturers should consider including NFC chips on smartphones and tablets. These transceivers and contactless smart cards will sense and transmit secure information between devices. The most significant application of this technology in the near future will be with the use of currency transactions from mobile handsets. The emergence of this technology is being pursued by many companies, the most well known being Google Wallet, said the company. This service is still in testing phase because of limited device and financial institution support. However, this will change in the next couple of years, Databeans predicted.

There are only a handful of phones equipped with NFC chips, but it is rumored that even the next generation of iPhones and iPads will include them. Most other companies will also follow suit and include the NFC chips in their competing products. The Google wallet system only includes one type of credit card on the Android Nexus S, but there are many other ventures and startups experimenting with this technology. Companies such as ISIS, Square, Jumio and Naratte will offer competing cards that will be accepted in the developing NFC payment infrastructure. The change in payment medium is predicted to face resistance for a short time, similar to the switch from checks to debit cards, but it will eventually be adopted. This adoption will create a large production demand for NFC chips in the consumer segment, the company added.

Databeans forecasts the sensors and MEMS market to reach $19.1 billion by 2016, which means the companies involved will profit considerably. The company's report, "Q3-2011 Microcontroller Market Tracker," projects that the contactless smart card market will reach $540 million this year.

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