What next for MEMS?

September 16, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Eric Mounier, senior technology and market analyst for Yole Developpement (Lyon, France), laid out a bright future for sales of MEMS components away from the domain of the smartphone and wearable, at the European MEMS Summit organized by industry body SEMI.

Mounier chose to examine three sectors, medical, consumer and automotive and showed that although the vary in the global end equipment annual market size in 2015 from $330 billion for medical equipment through $1,140 billion for consumer and up to $2,460 billion for automobiles. This produced similar markets for MEMS components at $2.7 billion, $5.7 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively.

Three markets to pursue according to Eric Mounier of Yole. Source: Yole Developpement.

The medical field in particular shows promise with BioMEMS expected to show an annual compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.4 percent over the period 2015 to 2021. In contrast, the smartphone growth rate has dropped to 6.4 percent over the same period although this will produce a 2 billion-unit annual market in 2021, Mounier said. By that time the feature phone and basic phone will be a diminishing segment but adding a further 500 million units every year.

Niches with strong growth include BioMEMS and specifically microfluidic MEMS. Source: Yole.

The tablet market, with its longer lifecycle, enjoyed strong growth in the first four years of its existence – 2010 through 2013.  It has been essentially declining since then and is expected to decline by 10 percent in 2016. The situation is made more complex by the rise of the hybrid tablet-cum-computer which has offset much of the lost sales of tablets.

Despite this seeming saturation of the consumer market growth continues partly by way of increased functionality of the equipment and increased penetration of sensors into the equipment.

"There are increasing opportunities in security and environmental sensing in consumer equipment," said Mounier before indicating the increasing sensor count in smartphones going from 5 in 2007 to 12 in 2014 and on to 19 sensors in 2021, including multiple microphones and gyroscopes.

Mounier offered that the medical market might also appeal to some MEMS companies as there is less price pressure and medical applications are often