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Mar 19th, 2014
Yole said it, Fairchild did it …
XSens’ acquisition by Fairchild Semiconductor shows how important the software will be for MEMS as predicted by Yole Développement in its last 6&9DOF report, entitled “6 and 9 axis sensors: consumer inertial combos”.
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As the inertial MEMS market keeps growing, the value is shifting from the silicon to a full integrated solution. This evolution is driven by a strong price erosion (IMUs are now less than $1 …) that pushes manufacturers to provide smart solutions. So, besides continuous hardware improvements, we see two major evolutions: one at the module level (as detailed in the new report published by Yole Développement: “Inertial MEMS Manufacturing Trends 2014” to be released this week) – the second being fusion investigated at different levels: sensor level, sensor hub MCU level or API level. Actually, there is no winning solution as it is highly application-dependent.

Thus, software developments are very important and should be highly specific and tailored for precise end-applications. One key point for user acceptance of new platforms is a need to have a natural interface. Technology has to be adapted to the user, and new functions (e.g. context awareness, motion tracking, virtual reality) must be in line with the user's real world.

For several years, Yole Développement has believed sensor fusion to be the next dramatic evolution of the sensors’ business. Indeed, over the past years, some software vendors have started to develop revenue through integration of solutions in CPUs or through licensing.

Examples of active players are Sensor Plaforms, Movea, Hillcrest Labs, XSens, PNI Sensor Corp. … Moreover, many – big - integrators involved in software are also investigating their own solutions: Microsoft, Apple, Google…

In its “6 and 9 axis sensors: consumer inertial combos” report, Yole Développement highlighted there is a clear opportunity for these companies in the MEMS business as they are generally sensor agnostic, and can take the time to test on a large number of users (which is not the case and the competency of silicon companies).

Although Fairchild Semiconductor is not (yet) a significant player in the MEMS landscape, both the company’s acquisition of Jyve Inc. in November 2010 and the recent acquisition of Xsens show a strong move into the MEMS.

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