The company reports that some new applications are showing good demand for either capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers (CMUTs) or piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers (PMUTs).
“At last, the mass-market is about to happen. At Yole we identified four concurrent factors explaining this timing,” said Yole analyst Marjorie Villien, in a statement.
The first reason is that broader applications are seeing the benefit of ultrasound. Ultrasound has been around for long time as low volume high value application in medical imaging, but thanks to cheaper and smaller probes that market is starting to move to general practitioners and even homes. Meanwhile ultrasonic fingerprint sensing allows for under-display operations on smartphones and drives consumer volumes
The second is development and greater availability of technology. “PMUT, which requires a thin, controlled piezoelectric film, has benefited from this technology’s increased usage for inkjet printhead,” said Alexis Debray, also an analyst with Yole.
Thirdly, and as a result, the supply chain is maturing through actions by such companies as Hitachi and Philips in CMUT and by Dimatix and STMicroelectronics for PMUT and Globalfoundries and Silex Microsystems for both.
The fourth element is the emergence of packaging and assembly capabilities at such companies as Tong Hsing Electronic, Philips, and SilTerra.
The biggest market for ultrasonic sensors in 2017 was parking assistance, worth about $2 billion followed by automation at more than $550 million. However, the growth is coming from such applications as fingerprint sensing and medical. Fingerprint sensing is expected to be worth $2 billion within five years.
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