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New applications to drive growth in 2015, beyond

Posted: 16 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? MEMS microphone? microcontroller? sensor?

The year 2015 looks likely to be a mixed bag of fortunes. Forecasts by various analysts show contrasting views on where the market will go. Even among industry players themselves, opinions differ. Generally, growth will be tempered by soft market conditions. Hence optimism is found mostly in new applications as well as enhanced applications for existing products.

MEMS microphone

Figure 1: Microphones, the latest MEMS device to enjoy the smartphone boost.

The relatively mature smartphone is still the focus of continuous enhancements and, as a result, is still a major growth driver. Just within the MEMS segment alone, smartphones first drove demand for accelerometers and gyroscopes, then they drove adoption of magnetometers. Today, smartphones are driving the growth of MEMS microphones. From a single MEMS microphone used for basic phone function, valuable new features such as noise cancellation and improved voice recognition have pushed the number of microphones for each smartphone to three. Yole Developpement expects the market for MEMS microphones to reach $1.65 billion in 2019.

Francois Guibert

Guibert: Pundits have predicted more than 50 billion things connected to the internet by the end of 2020.

Another likely beneficiary of smartphone growth is touch and proximity sensors, where increasing sophistication of the phone has driven the touch screen to new levels of intelligence. Proximity sensors now allow hovering actions, similar to the mouse rollover that highlights choices for more accurate selection. Technology that recognises multiple independent touch points on the screen, including that from ST, has opened up the possibility for complex interactions and applications to be developed for the smartphone.

A whole new ball game

The Internet of Things, on the other hand, is a whole new ball game. Taking advantage of the existing Internet and connectivity infrastructure, the IoT offers infinite possibilities; in fact, the "Things" in the Internet of Things can be just about ANY thing.

These are usually stand-alone devices, monitoring or collecting data and, of course, using the internet to move, analyse or share information. A thing could be something nearby, such as a fitness monitor worn by a user or it could be something distant, such as a weather monitor set up halfway across the world. To operate, these things share the need for a few basic components: sensor technology, wireless connectivity, smart power and a microcontroller brain to run all the components together as a single smart device.

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