MEMS Sensors to Hit Record Numbers This Year

Automotive system sensors grow in demand by 32% from 2009, according to iSuppli report.

With the automotive market churning back to vigor and inventory rebuilding among sensor component suppliers, the market for automotive microelectromechanical system sensors is expected to hit record numbers this year, according to new market research.

Research firm iSuppli predicts shipments of automotive MEMS sensors will reach 662.3 million units in 2010, representing a jump of 32% from a year ago. The projected year-end levels, which take into account the replenishment of inventory pipelines that had been otherwise depleted during the 2009 recession, will actually surpass the pre-crisis peaks of 2007 of 640 million sensors, according to the data.

That rapid buildup wont be sustainable, the report warns, as shipments will rise a modest 7.3% as the market corrects itself following the 2010 boom, before growing again year on year until reaching approximately 13% in 2014.

According to iSuppli, one of the significant drivers of automotive MEMS growth is the use of sensors in cars which support mandated safety technologies such as electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring systems.

MEMS sensors also are growing rapidly outside the automotive industry, appearing in video game controllers, mobile devices, as well as industrial applications such as robots, manufacturing processes and process control.

The U.S. and Europe have adopted legislation on safety systems, while other countries like Australia and Canada have followed suit. Similar mandates are now being adopted in South Korea and are expected in Japan, which will accelerate adoption rates world-wide. China will also account for a large portion of the automotive MEMS action, according to the report.

New applications are on the horizon for automotive MEMS, the most prominent of which is in gas sensors to better control air quality inside a vehicle, infrared thermopiles to monitor temperature, microbolometers to aid night-vision systems and MEMS oscillators to boost rear-view cameras.

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