Fingerprint sensors play a key role in mobile payment services, providing authentication for systems like Apple Pay. Other banks and financial institutions, including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are also working to support mobile payments and biometric authentication. Mobile payment services are expected to gain popularity across the entire industrialised world, across all continents.
Beyond payment solutions, the market is also driven by environment pollution: IHS expects that in the future, air quality sensors will experience growing usage in China. The first gas sensors have just been designed in by Chinese smartphone OEMs. IHS expects these phones will enter the market during the first half of 2015. There is also a specific demand for sensors that can detect particle pollution in large Chinese cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.
In terms of revenue, fingerprint sensors now dominate the mobile market, followed by optical pulse sensors, humidity and UV sensors. IHS anticipates gas sensors will join the fray in 2015 and thermal imagers will arrive during the 2018 time period.
Thermal imagers using microbolometer sensors emerged from the technology of forward-looking infrared (FLIR) systems in 2014 as accessories for the iPhone 5s. However, it will take a few more years before these sensors decline enough in pricing to be embedded in smartphones.
IHS predicts that Samsung will adopt gas/chemical sensors in the Note 6 smartphone, due for introduction in 2016. Some sensors that have appeared in smartphones are likely to migrate to wearables, which in some cases are better platforms for health or environmental sensors.
More information can be found in the report Emerging Sensors in Handsets & Tablets Report – 2014