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Air quality sensors to make it big in 2015

Posted: 06 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IHS? air quality sensor? smartphone?

According to the latest forecast from IHS, 2015 could see the emergence and consequent growth of the air quality sensor market, with China leading the way. With the goal of measuring air quality, the sensors are of great help to people in Asian countries where regulation has been lax on air quality.

"IHS expects that Chinese smartphone makers will be the early adopters of air quality sensors. During its interviews with smartphone OEMs, Chinese OEMs showed the most interest in air quality sensors," said Jeremy Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for MEMS & Sensors at IHS. "Chinese smartphone OEMs are becoming more daring than their Western or Korean competitors when it comes to adopting new MEMS technology. The recent adoption of RF MEMS antenna tuners (from Cavendish Kinetics) by ZTE is a good example."

IHS does not believe that the previous generation environmental sensor from Bosch (humidity, pressure and temperature) introduced at last year's CES has had much traction yet. But in its recent forecast "Emerging sensors for handsets and tablets" IHS believes that Bosch will get some traction with a new combo sensor that includes an air quality sensor in 2015 in China.

Gas sensors

Gas sensors are making a comeback in 2015, according to IHS, and will skyrocket in popularity through 2020 and beyond. (Source: IHS)

"Bosch already introduced a year ago a pressure, humidity and temperature sensor," Bouchaud noted. "Adding indoor air quality sensor is the obvious next step and Bosch will be the first one to introduce such a package."

Bouchaud said he expects other suppliers to introduce discrete gas sensors in handsets later in 2015. For instance Bouchaud said IHS believes that Cambridge CMOS Sensors has been designing gas sensors in some handsets that will hit the market in 2015.

Bouchaud pointed out, however, that while the gas sensors built into new MEMS chips to be introduced at CES will be appealing to the Chinese market, in particular, unfortunately they do not directly address the most prevalent type of pollution there, fine particulate from smokestacks and the like.

"The issue of air quality in large cities in China makes an air-quality sensor feature more appealing there," said Bouchaud. "One must note however that the gas sensor technologies introduced at CES will not be able to measure fine particulate in air. IHS does not believe that a sensor technology for measuring fine particulate will be available for handsets in the next three years."

Frog Design's concept air mask

Frog Design's concept air mask uses an app and particle sensors in a smartphone to warn users when to put the mask on. (Source:

Samsung is a company to watch for the adoption of air quality sensors too, according to Bouchaud, although Samsung will likely not adopt this feature in its flagship smartphones or tablets before 2016. Samsung is also participating in a R&D project to develop gas sensors with AppliedSensor GmbH in Reutlingen, Germany.

- R. Colin Johnson
??EE Times

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