This report is an update of an earlier BCC Research report published in 2008.MEMS, biochips, and nano-sensors (referred to collectively in this report as microsensors) make up one of the fastest-growing technology areas, with sales of nearly $5.2 billion in 2010 and expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5% between 2011 and 2016.
Microsensors have proven to be a key enabling technology of developments in sectors such as transportation, telecommunications, and healthcare, but the range of microsensors applications covers nearly every sector. The most significant advantage of microsensors is their ability to communicate easily with semiconductor chips. Other advantages include microsensors’ compact size, reduced power consumption, lower cost, and increased reliability. The growth in the use of microsensors has also led to the creation of supporting industries in areas such as design software, design services, specialty fabrication equipment, and fabrication facilities.
BCC has surveyed individual segments of the microsensor industry previously; for example, in its recent (2010) studies of the global market for microelectromechanical systems or MEMS, automotive sensors, medical device sensors, and environmental sensors. BCC initiated the present study to bring together these related markets as well as update the findings and conclusions of the earlier reports.
The range of microsensor products and applications has grown rapidly in the past few years, but it is important to avoid “hyping” their prospects. Although some types of microsensors (airbag accelerometers, for example) have had great commercial success, other types (such as most types of nanosensors) have enjoyed less success. Still other technologies are still at the discovery and developmental stages, and their eventual commercialization will require the commitment of substantial resources, with long payback periods and substantial financial risk.
To the extent that hype results in exaggerated investor expectation, it can divert investment from microsensor technologies that have real commercial potential. In the worst case, disappointed expectations can lead to a drying-up of investment funds, similar to the one that occurred in the dot-com sector after 2000. This report takes a hard look at the market for microsensors and tries to provide a road map to the technologies and applications that are likely to enjoy the greatest commercial success in the years through 2016.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of this report is to provide investors and others with information on the commercial potential of various microsensor technologies and applications to assist them in making the key business decisions that lie ahead. Specific objectives include identifying segments of the microsensor market with the greatest commercial potential in the near to mid-term (2011 to 2016), projecting future demand in these segments, and evaluating the challenges that must be overcome for each segment to realize its potential.
While it contains descriptions of microsensor technologies, this report is intended especially for microsensor marketing executives and other executives charged with asset allocation and corporate strategy, as well as entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, and other readers with a need to know where the market for microsensors is headed in the next 5 years. The report is written primarily for lay readers rather than technologists, but it should also be useful to readers in the research and development community who seek to anticipate future flows in R&D funding. Officials of related government programs such as the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative should also find the report interesting.
SCOPE OF REPORT
The report addresses the global market for microsensors, including the following:
- MEMS: Sensing devices that integrate mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate, and typically have dimensions in the 1-micron to 100-micron range (1 micron = 1 millionth of a meter).
- Biochips: Silicon chip-based detection devices that integrate a living organism or product derived from living systems (e.g., an enzyme or an antibody) and a transducer to provide an indication, signal, or other form of recognition of the presence of a specific substance in the environment. (Biological detection devices that do not generate an analytical signal, such as pregnancy tests or conventional glucose test strips, do not meet this report’s definition of sensors.)
- Nanosensors: Sensors that are nanoscale or incorporate nano-engineered structures such as nanotubes.
The study format includes the following major elements:
- Executive summary
- Milestones in the development of microsensors
- Current and developmental microsensor technologies and applications
- Microsensor technologies and applications with the greatest commercial potential through 2016
- Global microsensor market trends, 2010–2016
- Microsensor market shares and industry structure
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
The methodologies and assumptions used to develop the market projections in this report are discussed at length in the detailed market estimates and projections for each microsensor technology. The report carefully documents data sources and assumptions. This way, readers can see how the market estimates were developed and, if they so desire, test the impact on the final numbers of changing assumptions such as price.
This section makes some general observations concerning the report’s approach to estimating the market for developmental technologies whose commercial potential has not been demonstrated, which is always a challenging task. BCC used a multi-phase approach to identify the microsensor technologies with the greatest commercial potential and quantify the market for these applications, as described below.
In the first phase of the analysis, BCC identified a “long list” of potential microsensor technologies (including technologies that are still under development) and mapped them against potential applications and end-user industries, such as information technology/electronics, biotechnology, and healthcare.
In the second phase, BCC eliminated those microsensor technologies that appear to have little likelihood of making it into commercial production in the next 5 years, through a literature review and statements by industry sources. The result of phase two was a “short list” of technologies and applications with the greatest near to mid-term commercial potential.
The third phase focused on quantifying the potential market for each short-listed microsensor technology and identifying the main prerequisites for commercial success.
The base year for analysis and projection is 2010. At the time this report was prepared in early 2011, full-year 2010 data were not yet available for all market segments. In such cases, BCC estimated the market for 2010 based on historical trends and other available data.
With 2010 data (actual or estimated) as a baseline, market projections were developed for 2011 to 2016. These projections are based on a combination of a consensus among the primary contacts combined with BCC’s understanding of the key market drivers and their impact from a historical and analytical perspective.
Andrew McWilliams, the author of this report, is a partner in the Boston-based international technology and marketing consulting firm, 43rd Parallel, LLC. Mr. McWilliams is the author of several other BCC reports on sensor technologies and markets, including the previous edition of this report; Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) Technology: Current and Future Markets (SMC051C); Biosensors and Bioelectronics (BIO039B); and Nanosensors (NAN035A). Other related studies that Mr. McWilliams has prepared for BCC include Analog and Mixed Signal Devices (SMC065A); Nondestructive Testing (MFG016F); Materials Characterization Instruments (IAS015A); Microelectronic Medical Implants: Products, Technologies and Opportunities (HLC016C); Patient Monitoring (HLC038C); and Smart and Interactive Textiles (AVM050B).
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal, or accounting advice; nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual, or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. The authors assume no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.