MEMS (Micro-electromechanical Systems) are starting to be the “Swiss Army Knives” of modern consumer electronics: they can take the form of (or be incorporated in) accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, altimeters, screens, projectors and microphones. New data from ABI Research indicates that strong growth in the MEMS market over the next five years will result in nearly five billion MEMS being shipped during 2016.

MEMS are found in smartphones, netbooks, media tablets, eReaders, games consoles and handheld gaming platforms, where some of them assist with navigation, dead reckoning, image stabilization and augmented reality. (Often, more than one MEMS will reside in any given consumer device.) Still others will underpin new forms of display that use far less power than today’s screen technologies (although initially at greater cost).

“Initially, smartphones will provide the greatest boost to uptake,” notes Practice Director Peter Cooney, “but if OEMS embrace MEMS displays, they may deliver the strongest overall growth in revenue over time. ABI Research’s MEMS market forecasts depend on device shipments growing as expected. At this point however, we are confident about the prospects for CE devices market growth.”

The MEMS market is currently split between seven quite specialized major vendors – STMicroelectronics, Asahi Kasei, InvenSense, Bosch, Knowles, Kionix, Freescale Semiconductor – and a number of smaller ones.

“Over time, competition in the MEMS market will result in falling ASPs,” says Cooney. “Two of the larger vendors, Bosch and STMicroelectronics, have more diversified product offerings, taking shares across a number of applications. This positions them well to prosper as market conditions change, while other vendors continue to specialize. There is still room for new vendors with new products, however.”