Internet of Things Stimulates MEMS Market

The explosive expansion of the Internet of things (IoT) is driving rapid demand growth for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) devices in areas including asset-tracking systems, smart grids and building automation.

Worldwide market revenue for MEMS directly used in industrial IoT equipment will rise to $120 million in 2018, up from $16 million in 2013, according to IHS Technology. Additional MEMS also will be used to support the deployment of the IoT, such as devices employed in data centers. This indirect market for industrial IoT MEMS will increase to $214 million in 2018, up from $43 million in 2013.

Global market shipments for industrial IoT equipment are expected to expand to 7.3 billion units in 2025, up from 1.8 billion in 2013. The industrial IoT market is a diverse area, comprising equipment such as nodes, controllers and infrastructure, and used in markets ranging from building automation to commercial transport, smart cards, industrial automation, lighting and health. Such gear employs a range of MEMS device types including accelerometers, pressure sensors, timing components and microphones.

“The Internet of things is sometimes called the machine-to-machine (M2M) revolution, and one important class of machines—MEMS—will play an essential role in expansion of the boom of the industrial IoT segment in the coming years,” said Jeremie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst for

Building automation will generate the largest volumes for MEMS and other types of sensors in the industrial IoT market. Asset tracking is the second-largest opportunity for sensors in industrial IoT. This segment will drive demand for large volumes of MEMS accelerometers and pressure sensors.

The smart grid also will require various types of MEMS, including inclinometers to monitor high-voltage power lines as well as accelerometers and flow sensors in smart meters. Other major segments of the industrial IoT market include smart cities, smart factories, seismic monitoring, and drones and robotics.

Accelerometers and pressure sensors account for most of the MEMS shipments for direct industrial IoT applications in areas including building automation, agriculture and medical. MEMS timing devices in smart meters and microphones used in smart homes and smart cities will be next in terms of volume.

To support the deluge of data that IoT will generate, major investments will be required in the backbone infrastructure of the Internet, including data centers. This, in turn, will drive the indirect demand for MEMS used in such infrastructure.

Data centers will spur demand for optical MEMS, especially optical cross connects and wavelength selective switches. Big data operations also will require large quantities of integrated circuits (ICs) for memory. The testing of memory ICs makes use of MEMS wafer probe cards.

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