Intelligent Wireless Microsystems

Published - Jan 2008| Analyst - Jim Wilson| Code - IFT064A
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Report Highlights

  • The global market for advanced intelligent wireless microsystems (IWM) will increase from $132 million in 2007 to an estimated $138 million by the end of 2008. It should reach $1.3 billion by 2013, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.4%.
  • Ten industries including pulp and paper processing and transportation are pioneering the use of IWM technologies and will have significant requirements for IWM by 2013.
  • Demand for IWM technology largely will increase due to the needs to save energy and minimize pollutant release into the air and water.


Forecast in this report is the impact of the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), wireless sensor networks and microsystems to produce a new family of smart and situation-aware control devices-intelligent wireless microsystems (IWM). As the first ever study of IWM technology, emerging demand is examined for what BCC anticipates will become an entirely new sector within the instruments and controls industry, projected to be worth $1.3 billion by 2013.

BCC examines the way in which a series of developments in computer science and components miniaturization are driving the creation of IWM technology. This analysis provides a detailed survey of the organizations involved in pioneering IWM technology, identifying developers in both the academic and business communities. It describes national efforts to both expand and contain the development of dual civilian-military use IWM technology. At the application level, BCC identifies, describes, and provides U.S., global, and regional forecasts for 2007 as well as 2008-2013 demand for IWMs in 10 industries that have begun to pioneer the use of the technology. Those industries are listed below:


This report contains:


  • Descriptions of various intelligent wireless microsystems (IWM) technologies including applications for metal production, petroleum refining, plastics manufacturing, beverage manufacturing, chemicals manufacturing, electrical apparatus manufacturing, food manufacturing, special purpose machinery manufacturing, pulp and paper processing, and transportation
  • The current market status for IWM, trends and forecasts for growth over the 5-year period 2008 through 2013
  • Profiles of companies pioneering IWM technology and a thorough patent analysis
  • Analysis of the IWM industry on a worldwide basis, from both a market and applications perspective
  • A discussion of the demand for pollution control systems in applications amenable to conversion to IWM.



IWM is an emerging technology and as is the case with all new technologies there is a gap-sometimes orders of magnitude wide-between sales projections and the numbers recorded in order books. In addition, due to the novelty of the field, there is an absence of industry or government surveys to serve as independent yardsticks against which sometimes overly enthusiastic growth estimates can be compared.

BCC's estimates are likely lower than those that will inevitably emerge from within the IWM industry over the next 5 years. This can be traced to two decisions involving methodology. In its analysis, BCC found that with few exceptions, IWM research and development is being undertaken as part of larger programs aimed at addressing particular problems in networking and systems design. When a company indicates it has "people working on it" that explanation may mean an effort as large as a task force of experienced experts and outside consultants or only the part-time effort of one junior engineer. CC has found the latter situation to be the more likely scenario. Where the professional time devoted to improving AI, wireless sensor networks, and microsystems is measurable in thousands of man-years, efforts specifically directed at integrating those components into IWM technology are measurable in man-hours.

A second factor leading to the comparatively lower dollar value in BCC's forecasts is the belief that the first systems coming into use-mostly for proof of concept evaluations-will make greater use of discrete components and existing products, as opposed to the unique system-on-chip (SOC) designs that will eventually dominate the market. BCC anticipates that SOC-based IWM devices will not become commercially significant until after conclusion of the 2008 to 2013 forecast period.

For example, many first-generation IWM devices will be variations of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) devices, with the sole modification consisting of AI software downloaded into existing system memory. The net result is that BCC has calculated present demand for IWM technology to be near $138 million, a modest sum in terms of current R&D and control systems acquisition spending. Growth by 2013, although high in terms of compound annual growth rate (CAGR), will remain modest at about the $1.3 billion level. Were BCC to extend the forecast period to 2015 or beyond, that ramp-up of commercial applications would likely cause a many-fold increase in value.

To undertake this forecast, BCC analyzed the markets for the constituent components of IWM systems, as revealed in product literature and catalogs and in forward-looking statements by public companies. U.S. patents and filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission were also consulted. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data were used to assess the demand for pollution control systems in applications amenable to conversion to IWM. Use of EPA cost data further contributes to what some may see as low dollar values in 2008-2013 forecasts. Among analysts, it is suspected-but unproven-that EPA compliance estimates tend to trend below market costs.

All estimates in this report represent spending in addition to that for all other instrumentation and control systems. Finally, it must be noted that the overall cost of electronic components is generally trending downward; that is BCC estimates that comparable IWM devices will cost 15% to 20% less in 2013 than in 2008.


BCC Research studied more than 100 companies to obtain data for this report. It also reviewed reports and studies prepared for peer-reviewed professional literature, and reports by the technical staffs of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, and the EPA. Other data came from scientific and technical conferences, and presentations prepared by the European Union and the World Bank.


James Wilson is an established technology market analyst. The author of more than 300 articles and six books on science, medicine, technology, and business, he also has served as editor of the Princeton Business Journal and as senior science and technology editor for Hearst Magazines.

A member of the National Association of Science Writers and the American Medical Writers Association, Wilson served on the adjunct faculty of Temple University and on the staffs of Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences. He is the author of several BCC Research studies including:

  • HLC049A Medical Device Coatings
  • MST0027G Controlled Release Technologies: Established and Emerging Markets
  • IASO22A Remote Sensing Technologies and Global Markets
  • IFTO62A Mobile Telematics Technologies and Markets
  • IFTO62B The Mobile Telematics Handbook.


  • Beverage merchandising
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Electrical apparatus manufacturing
  • Food manufacturing
  • Special-purpose machinery manufacturing
  • Metal production
  • Petroleum refining
  • Plastics manufacturing
  • Pulp and paper processing
  • Transportation

Although nominally a new area of the instruments and controls industry, BCC anticipates that IWM technology will make its presence felt far beyond that specialized area. In this analysis, BCC describes uses for IWMs as varied as smart point-of-purchase displays that communicate with passing customers, to process-adapting pollution control systems that cost-justify their installation based on energy savings.

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