Tablets, Automotive, Smart TV Newest CMOS Drivers
|From bread-and-butter cell phone applications, CMOS image sensors are being designed into myriad products.|
From Yole Développement, a new report, “Status of the CMOS Image Sensors Industry,” predicts the market will grow at an 11 percent CAGR in revenue in the 2012-2017 period, from $6.6 billion in 2012 to $11 billion in 2017.
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Many different applications are driving the integration of CMOS image sensors. If mobile handsets accounted for ~ 65 percent of total shipments in 2011, many new applications are poised to drive the future growth of this industry. Three fast emerging applications of significant size should drive the growth of the market to an expected CAGR over 30 percent: Tablets, automotive and smart TV.
Tablets are poised to boost CIS sales in the consumer market because a majority of tablets now feature one or two cameras, similar to mobile phones. “We expect CIS sales to generate nearly $1.5 billion in 2017,” says Paul Danini of Yole Développement. From another standpoint, car manufacturers have begun equipping cars with multiple cameras, pushed by upcoming regulations promoting greater safety and driver assistance. This is completely different from the phone market which is still in a race for higher resolution.
As volumes increase, a clear duality appears between companies that have adopted a growth strategy by focusing on low-end markets and those opting for a specialization in high-end and higher margin markets to maintain profitability.
As expected in 2010, the CMOS image sensor industry has evolved since the introduction of Backside Illumination Technology (BSI). Though BSI technology increases manufacturing costs by 20 percent, it enables a dramatic increase in sensor sensitivity which allows pixel size to further decrease.
In the near future, high potential technologies may quickly reshape the imaging industry, namely 3D Time-of-Flight imaging, computational imaging, quantum dot film and single photon counting. The next technological breakthrough will likely come once again from Sony which has developed the first stacked sensor architecture for the consumer market. Stacking pixels on the signal processing circuit rather than next to each other will optimize the manufacturing process of each circuit and provide sensors with greater sensitivity, faster readout and much higher signal processing integration.