According to iSuppli research, shipments in the global market for motion sensor devices will quintuple by the year 2014 due to the increase in demand from end use markets such as smartphones. The sensor devices are primarily used in smartphone devices and their operating systems that increasingly using navigation and motion command applications.
By 2014, shipments of smartphone motion sensors such as pressure sensors, gyroscopes, accelerometers and compasses are expected to touch 2.2 billion units, an increase from 435.9 million units in 2009. Shipment revenues are expected to marginally exceed $1 billion dollars by 2014 from a 2009 revenues of $316 million dollars.
Compasses and accelerometers already play a pivotal role in the functioning of smartphone devices such as the Google phone and the iPhone. When large touch screen phones gets turned on its side, accelerometers can sense and enable the phone to change from the portrait view to the landscape view. This type of motion sensors are already being incorporated in context-awareness and augmented reality applications and also play a key role in navigation and gaming functions.
The Chinese market is increasingly adopting motion sensor devices in all their cellular phones which are driving the demand for accelerometers in this market. In fact, about 20% of accelerometer shipments around the globe were to the Chinese market in 2009. Majority of these accelerometers are used in China’s gray mobile handset market.
It is estimated that by 2014, 44% of total revenue from motion sensor devices for mobile handsets will come from accelerometers with 65% of all mobile handsets expected to use accelerometers by 2014. This represents a significant rise from 2% in 2007 to 28% in 2009. Moreover, reduced rates of 3-axis parts is also expected to boost sales in the future. By 2014, the price of an accelerometer with a 6-bit 3-axis is expected to shrink to 34 cents by 2014 from 90 cents in 2008. However, the market share of 12- to-14-bit accelerometers will rise since they are used for more sophisticated applications such as navigation and hand-gesture recognition applications.
According to iSuppli’s Director and Principal Analyst (MEM), Jeremie Bouchaud, shipments in the compass market witnessed significant growth in the latter half of 2009. In 2008, only 4% of Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled cell phones used compasses with this figure increasing to 19% in 2009.
In mobile handsets, compasses enable map navigation and Augmented-reality applications that include GPS signal, camera and compass and is primarily seen in smartphones such as iPhone 3Gs and Android handsets. Bouchaud informed that these features will further drive the sales of compasses.
The gyroscopes became popular in mid 2009 with the introduction of new two and three axis gyroscopes from STMicroelectronics and InvenSense and also after the success of Nintendo Wii Motion Plus.
In 2010 and 2011, the chief applications will include a user interface that will incorporate an accelerometer and a gyroscope. This will be followed by dead-reckoning and image stabilization for in-vehicle navigation applications. From 2012, compasses, accelerometers and pressure sensors will be combined with gyroscopes to be utilized for in-door navigation and floor accuracy purposes. The gyroscope market for cell phones is estimated to reach $190 million by 2014.
With demand for motion sensor devices expected in the coming years, the semiconductor industry will also experience growth in the manufacturing areas of navigation chipsets, microcontrollers and processors.