Driven by innovation, pushed by legislation, and pulled by market need, wireless MEMS will experience strong growth in the next couple of years. In-Stat/ MDR reports that worldwide revenues for wireless MEMS (in the form of RF MEMS components and wireless MEMS sensors) will experience a 32.2 percent compound annual growth rate between 2001 and 2006, with the cell phone, automobile, and industrial processing/condition monitoring markets benefiting most from what the technology has to offer.

"Development of the MEMS piece of the wireless pie has required significant innovation at the engineering level, while the electronics that provide the wireless portion, by and large, are already well established," says Marlene Bourne, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "It is the pairing of the two that is opening the doors to markets and applications that have been waiting for such a breakthrough."

In-Stat/MDR also found that:

  • While packaging hurdles appear to have been overcome for RF MEMS, the next real issue being faced is getting the devices into the market - no one has yet proven volume manufacturability.
  • The use of wireless MEMS sensor networks has been limited to date by a lack of interface standardization and the basic question of which wireless standard to choose -both of which are quickly being resolved.
  • Sales of RF MEMS (switches/relays, filters, inductors, etc.) are forecast to reach the $200 M mark by 2006, which is down considerably from earlier forecasts. This is the result of better pricing and volume guidance from companies in this brand new market segment.
  • Sales of wireless MEMS sensors are forecast to reach about $700 M in 2006, largely based on the use of sensors in tire pressure monitoring systems. However this application is not yet a done deal - a pending government decision could either completely eliminate this segment beyond 2006, or provide for exponentially higher revenues.