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Light sensors projected to reap double-digit growth

Posted: 01 Aug 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:light sensor? proximity sensor? smartphone?

According to the most recent forecast from IHS, bolstered by Samsung and Apple, light and proximity sensors in mobile handsets and tablets will register double-digit growth within a five-year period. Revenue for the sensors is expected to reach $782.2 million this year, up 41 per cent from $555.1 million last year. The market is also predicted to grow in the double digits for the next three years before moderating to a still-robust eight per cent in 2017. By then, revenue will reach $1.3 billion, added the market research firm.

There are three types of light and proximity sensors: ambient light sensors (ALS) that measure the intensity of the surrounding light enveloping a cell phone or tablet to adjust screen brightness and save battery power; RGB sensors that measure a room's colour temperature via the red, green and blue wavelengths of light to help correct white balance in the device display; and proximity sensors that disable a handset's touch screen when it is held close to the head, in order to avoid unwanted input, and also to turn off the light in the display to save battery power.

Overall, the CAGR for the sensors from 2012-2017 equates to 19 per cent. Driving this growth is the shift in use from ALS to RGB in mid- to high-end smartphones; the growing deployment of proximity sensors with gesture capabilities compared to just simple proximity sensors; and the price premiums associated with such changes in usage.

Aside from their most conspicuous use in wireless communications typified by handsets and tablets, light sensors are also utilised in various other applications. These include consumer electronics and data processing for devices like televisions, laptops and tablets; the industrial market for home automation, medical electronics and general lighting; and the automotive space for vehicle displays and car functionalities like rain sensors.

Both Samsung and Apple have made use of light and proximity sensors in recent years, helping the sensor market grow in no small measure.

In 2010, Apple included an RGB and proximity sensor for its iPhone 4 and an RGB sensor in its iPad, even though the sensors were subsequently dropped in the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and later iPads. Apple let go of the sensors, which were made available at that time in a combinationor combo packagein favour of discrete solutions consisting of individual proximity as well as ALS sensors for its products. While combo sensors offer the convenience of a single configured package and sourcing from a single supplier, discrete solutions can offer flexibility in the choice of sensor.

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