Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare: Market Report by French Yole Développement
MEMS technology for your senses
22nd September 2015 News Release from: Yole Développement
Written by : Nat Bowers
Hearing, touching, smelling and seeing… what will be the next improvement that MEMS will bring to our senses? Sensors are now small, reliable and accurate enough to be included in a pocket-sized device of only 9cm3 and interface with the environment, details Yole Développement in its latest report dedicated to the wearable industry: Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare. In this technology and market analysis, Yole forecasts a $88bn market by 2020, comprising 1.2bn sensor units.
What is MEMS Technology?
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems, or MEMS, is a technology that in its most general form can be defined as miniaturized mechanical and electro-mechanical elements (i.e., devices and structures) that are made using the techniques of microfabrication. The critical physical dimensions of MEMS devices can vary from well below one micron on the lower end of the dimensional spectrum, all the way to several millimeters. Likewise, the types of MEMS devices can vary from relatively simple structures having no moving elements, to extremely complex electromechanical systems with multiple moving elements under the control of integrated microelectronics. The one main criterion of MEMS is that there are at least some elements having some sort of mechanical functionality whether or not these elements can move. The term used to define MEMS varies in different parts of the world. In the United States they are predominantly called MEMS, while in some other parts of the world they are called “Microsystems Technology” or “micromachined devices”.
While the functional elements of MEMS are miniaturized structures, sensors, actuators, and microelectronics, the most notable (and perhaps most interesting) elements are the microsensors and microactuators. Microsensors and microactuators are appropriately categorized as “transducers”, which are defined as devices that convert energy from one form to another. In the case of microsensors, the device typically converts a measured mechanical signal into an electrical signal.
Dr Eric Mounier, Senior Technology & Market Analyst, Yole Développement, will be part of the European MEMS Summit 2015 taking place from 17th to 18th September in Milan, Italy. He will present an overview of the wearable industry, its technological status and key market figures, as well as review the development opportunities linked to MEMS for wearable applications and share his vision with MEMS executives.The European MEMS Summit has been created by SEMI. This year, the Summit is titled: Sensing the Planet, MEMS for Life. This Summit is a networking platform to present ideas and exchange viewpoints on MEMS technologies, manufacturing and business challenges. Register right now and ensure your place in the tomorrow’s MEMS world.
In its annual MEMS technology and market analysis, Status of the MEMS Industry, Yole’s analysts confirm the MEMS market’s growth, with a major increase due to consumer applications. Yole forecasts a 12% CAGR between 2014 and 2020. MEMS for consumer markets will represent more than 50% of total MEMS market value in 2020. The accelerometer is probably the most interesting example. This MEMS device has grown in volume to more than 2bn units between 2008 and 2015. This growth is mainly due to smartphone applications, which have clearly changed the game with a new high volume/low cost ratio.
The MEMS industry’s birth was supported by automotive market needs. Its development has been ensured by new applications coming from the consumer sector.
What will be the next step?
Dr Mounier comments: "Most of the MEMS companies benefited from this growth, across all sectors, with good revenues in 2014. But the most important fact is probably the new status of the MEMS industry. It is reaching a maturity level where it is proposing MEMS products with good market positioning in terms of technology and cost. It is also characterised by a new status for the leaders of this industry. At Yole, we call them, the 'MEMS titans'. Including Canon, Knowles, InvenSense, Robert Bosch and STMicroelectronics, they currently share most of the MEMS market pie.”
Mimicking the 5 senses... and more
What can we expect from wearable applications? Today they are very different to the original vision. MEMS companies would like to mimic the five basic human senses and add new ones, such as night vision within smartphones, as suggested by FLIR Systems’ 2015 announcements. Thanks to the evolution of MEMS technology, MEMS players can develop a real interface between humans and our environment.
“The status of MEMS technology turns wearable applications into a reality,” asserts Dr Mounier. “With WiFi, cellular and Bluetooth, MEMS devices can be connected everywhere. Today’s components are also based on a low power consumption principle and allow us to collect all the data needed to monitor our environment. All attributes are therefore in place to ensure the development of wearable solutions.”
But is a 'good' technology enough to be successful and ensure the development of a new market? Apple and its new Apple watch is an interesting case study. Dr Mounier will review these technology and market trends and detail the related challenges during his presentation at the European MEMS Summit.
Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare
Consumer, healthcare, and industrial will drive the rapidly-expanding wearable industry to a potential value of $90B by 2020. But how it will evolve, and who will succeed?
Three markets will drive the wearable industry
Wearable electronics is one of the consumer market’s hottest topics. Giants like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei are now competing for a slice of a very promising pie. Regarding our report’s analysis, we estimate that the wearable industry will reach 295M units by 2020, with a market value of $95B. Three markets will drive this impressive growth: consumer, healthcare, and industrial. Wearable technology is expected to be part of the IoT revolution, bringing useful information directly to the user in a more natural and friendly way than with traditional electronic devices. We expect the consumer market, which is mostly comprised of fitness bands and smart watches to grow faster than the other two. The healthcare market, which covers devices like hearing aids, blood pressure monitors, and back monitor sensors, is expected to grow at a lower rate, since this market has already been growing for many years. Regarding the industrial market, we expected slow, steady growth through 2019, with a significant uptick commencing in 2020.
Until recently, wearable electronics were often associated with the healthcare market - typically, bulky medical devices with only a few features and not optimized for “customer- friendly” usage. Often times, these devices (i.e. hearing aids and blood pressure monitors) perform a single task and are solely dedicated to patient monitoring and/or well-being. They are not “smart devices” - their only mission is to accurately complete a single task. We believe that a large part of the healthcare market will evolve in association with the consumer market, eventually blurring the lines between healthcare and consumer devices. In fact, we think that the healthcare market will slowly merge with the consumer one, resulting in personalized medicine that involves self-monitoring of one’s health with smart and reliable devices. However, these kind of devices, which require a highly accurate, highly reliable tracking of biological signs in a non-invasive fashion, are not expected for another few years.
There is a good presentation at SlideShare
Status of the MEMS Industry 2015 Report by Yole Developpement
Image by Yole Développement