Market for sensors in handheld computers to triple

October 27, 2014 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Market for sensors in handheld computers to triple
The demand for smartphones, tablet computers continues to skyrocket, and future generations of these gadgets will contain ever more sensors. This will cause the market for such sensors almost to triple during the period from 2012 to 2018, market researcher IHS Technology has reckoned. The most potent actors in this field are Samsung and Apple.

The market watchers from IHS estimate that the global revenue for sensors in smartphones and tablet computers will climb from $2.3 billion in 2012 to $6.5 billion in 2018, with emerging devices representing the fastest-expanding segment of this market. In this field, the IHS experts see a surge from just $24 million (2012) to $2.3 billion in 2018. In 2013 alone, this segment exhibited a dramatic growth when worldwide sales rose to $500 million - an increase by the factor of 20. The term 'Emerging sensors' refers to novel devices including fingerprint, optical pulse, humidity, gas, ultraviolet (UV) and thermal imaging. In contrast, "established" sensors in the sense of this market research include motion sensors, light sensors and MEMS microphones.

Now the next wave of sensor technology in smartphones and tablets has arrived, believes IHS senior analyst for MEMS and sensors, Marwan Boustany. “Led by Apple and Samsung, the mobile market is moving beyond simply integrating established devices like motion sensors and now is including next-generation features like fingerprint and environment/health sensors. Adoption of these newer devices will drive the expansion of the mobile sensor device market in the coming years,” Boustany said.

According to the expert, Apple initiated the market for fingerprint sensors in mobile devices with the release of the iPhone 5s in 2013. Against this background, IHS forecasts that shipments of fingerprint-enabled devices will reach 1.4 billion units in 2020 - more than four times the 317 million units expected to be shipped by the end of 2014.

The fingerprint sensor market is beginning to gain traction also at other companies. New devices with fingerprint sensors include Samsung's flagship model—the Galaxy S5—and Huawei’s top-of-the-line smartphone, the Ascend Mate 7, both of which began shipping in 2014.

For its part, Samsung has pioneered the deployment of other devices, including environmental and health sensors in the flagship models introduced by the company during the last 18 months. Samsung rolled

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