Friday, March 19, 2010

What will be the next MEMS killer applications?

LYON, FRANCE: Yole Developpement will be publishing a new market and technology analysis on “Emerging MEMS” this month.

MEMS markets have been and will always be driven by innovation. It means that, every year, new MEMS developments are coming out. Not all of them find commercial success, but the constant stream shows there are plenty of applications where MEMS devices could be used.

For a long time, the MEMS market has been composed of “mature” MEMS devices: IJ heads, pressure sensors, accelerometers and DMD. Then came microfluidics, gyroscopes, micro phones, RF MEMS (the latter still struggling to shift to large volume).

In addition to these devices, there are a lot of new MEMS that have crossed the gap from R&D to commercialization, or are close to doing so. This report presents these new “Emerging MEMS” devices that could be the next killer application of tomorrow.

This report presents a market and technical overview for MEMS-based Auto Focus, Electronic Compass, Energy Harvesting, Micro-bolometers, Micro displays, Micro fuel cells, Micro speakers, Micro structures, Microtips, Oscillators and RFID.

Innovative developments, promising markets
Estimated to be $550 million in 2009 a few percent of the total MEMS business, Emerging MEMS markets have the potential to add $2.2 billion to the overall MEMS market by 2015.

An interesting fact is that most of the new MEMS developments are under the roof of startups. The situation is quite similar to what happened in the 1998-1999 period, when many new MEMS developments were on the edge of crossing the chasm –- today these are mature MEMS products with large volume markets. We have identified more than 30 startups involved in new developments. These new companies will contribute a major part of the Emerging MEMS market devices by 2015 (10 percent of the then total MEMS market)!

Among the MEMS devices analyzed in this report, microbolometers, digital compasses and oscillators will represent the most promising markets. Out of these three, only microbolometers are mature technologies (while still subject to innovations to lower cost and increase integration).

MEMS oscillators are now ready to take a significant share of the timing market. Digital compass is a soaring market in 2010 that started in earnest in 2007 thanks to the first monolithic 3-axis devices.

• Micro displays are a more risky technology as the technology is not mature yet. But CAGR will be very high.

• Micro fuel cells have large market expectation as MEMS based microfuel cell market is expected to take about 25% of the global microfuel cell market.

• Other emerging MEMS will still represent a major market value in 2015. They are micro tips and micro probes. Auto focus is today shifting from AF lens to an integrated OIS solution for camera modules with gyroscopes. This could boost the gyroscope market as soon as 2010.

• Finally, considered as Emerging MEMS technologies and covered in our report, other applications are really at the start of the learning curve or will stay niche applications. They are micro structures for watches, RFID, energy harvesting and micro speakers (with the latter showing promise for a volume market by 2015).

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