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Proximity sensor market gains from gesture-based UI

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:proximity sensor? smartphone? tablets? gesture-based UI? MEMS?

The increasing use of smartphones and tablets that make use of gesture-based user interface (UI) has resulted in the explosive growth of the market for sensors that track hand movements in conjunction with touch screens. This is according to IHS that also forecasted that revenue for proximity-based gesture sensors will reach $123 million this year, up from just $42,000 in 2012. The primary application of gesture sensors will be in wireless devices, followed by consumer electronics and automotive. Growth will be during in the next few yearsas much as 68 per cent from 2014 to 2015with sensor revenue hitting $545 million by 2017, indicated the market research firm.

Current handset based gesture solutions on the market come in two typescapacitive and infrared (IR) proximity. In gesture-based mechanisms, specialised proximity sensors detect movements in two or three dimensions and recognise hand swipes going left, right, up and down. While the current crop of touch screens requires the direct touch of a finger or stylus on the screen, capacitive gesture controls go further, allowing a user to interact with a device just by being close to the touch screen.

"The Galaxy S4 from Samsung Electronics represented the first major push towards gesture interface capability in a handset when the smartphone was released this year," said Marwan Boustany, senior analyst, MEMS & Sensors, for IHS. "This is a step that others in the industry are likely to follow, thanks to the rising availability of gesture solutions from suppliers like U.S.-based Maxim Integrated Products and soon from both Japan's Sharp and Taiwan-based Capella Microsystems."

Because IHS does not believe that gesture sensors will be available in low-end handsets in the near term, gesture functionality will be limited to midrange and high-end cell phones. IHS believes that handsets will account for the majority of revenue for gesture sensors from 2013 through2017, even though cell phones are likely to use just one sensor because of the limited gesture use cases imposed by the size of the handset display.

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