MEMS market booms on back of tablets and mobiles

While the PC market bombs, the influx of shiny rectangles into people’s homes has meant that the market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) has rocketed.

As well as the boom in tablets, the MEMS market has reached record levels with more of the public upgrading to smartphones, according to market research firm IHS.

Revenues for mobile and consumer MEMS are expected to hit $2.25 billion this year, meaning a record growth rate of 37 percent.  This beats last year’s record 27 percent growth to $1.64 billion revenues.

By 2015 revenues will have grown to $4.54 billion, based on a compound annual growth rate of 22.5 percent.

And with MEMS products providing much of the fancy features of smartphones and tablets, the market will ride the wave of popularity of these devices.  For example MEMS products can mean accelerometers and gyroscopes for motion sensors. Or even the microphones and acoustic wave filters that enable wireless internet connections.

Interestingly MEMS equipment are only set to get more and more sophisticated as thermopiles, varactors, timing devices, pressure sensors for indoor navigation, radio frequency MEMS switches and other fancy systems are miniaturised for mobile use.

Thermopiles for example will help to monitor in close proximity to a phone or tablet case to monitor heat from the processor, meaning greater control over optimal performance.  Texas Instrument introduced such a device in May.

A MEMS joystick using optical and magnetic sensors is expected to find its way into gamer’s hands soon enough too.

According to IHS iSuppli the most compelling MEMS device is the three-axis gyroscope found in the like of the iPhone 4, Galaxy SII and many tablets. This can be used alongside an accelerometer and digital compass to allow for a new generation of motion sensor that could see augmented reality really take hold.

Revenue for the three-axis gyroscope will see a massive jump to $420 million, from $127 million last year, having also seen good uptake in the PlayStation move controller. 

The market for gyroscopes overall will account for the second largest segment of the MEMS market, behind accelerometers, which allow the simple genius rotating a mobile display’s orientation from landscape to portrait.

Overall it will be smartphones which see the biggest application of MEMS, with revenues in handsets set to reach $1.21 billion.

Gaming comes in a distance in second place, with $221.49 revenues, with tablets accounting for $158.64 million this year.

However tablet MEMS growth is expected to shoot up rapidly, having already jumped 331 percent from just $36.83 last year.

Gaming applications will see a decline on the other hand.  This is due to the influx of casual gaming, but should pick up again when more gaming devices arrive utilising MEMS .  Whether Nintendo will help out with its rather insane looking Wii update is yet to be seen, but 2013 to 2015 is expected to see growth return to this segment.

All other minor MEMS segments are expected to see growth to some degree such as cameras, MP3 players ebooks, and TechEye’s favourite MEMS segment, toy helicopters, apparently.