Note from the publisher: The report will be available from September 2, 2016.
In a dynamic IR imaging market with ever more competitors, technologies and products, uncooled IR imager shipments are expected to grow at 15.8% CAGR from 2016-2021.
The uncooled IR imager market is still expanding, driven by new uses and price decreases
The infrared business is still driven by commercial markets, which will continue to expand quickly, with shipments growing at 16.8% CAGR to represent 92% of the overall market by 2021. The commercial market is divided into three major subsegments: thermography, which will account for 521,000 units in 2021, automotive, which will account for 284,000 units in 2021, and surveillance and security which will demand 248,000 units in 2021.
In 2015, thermography is still by far the main commercial market in both value and shipments. Since 2013, Fluke and FLIR have introduced several new products with lower pricing, which boosted sales. The ultra-low-end market had dramatic price reductions with visual thermometers selling for just a few hundred dollars, for example the FLIR TG130, which you can buy for $200. Thermography sales will grow from 212,000 units in 2015 to 521,000 units by 2021, at a 16% CAGR. The trend towards lower-end thermography cameras has also prompted the introduction of low-resolution technologies like pyroelectric sensors, thermopiles, and thermodiodes.
Surveillance market shipments grew 32% in 2015 due to price erosion and the growing number of suppliers. Until recently, thermal cameras have primarily been used in high-end surveillance for critical and government infrastructure. However, new municipal and commercial applications with lower price points are now appearing, including traffic, parking, power stations and photovoltaic plants.
Automotive market shipments grew 15% in 2015, although the growth rate was down from 30% in 2014. Total automotive sales, including OEM and aftermarket, were less than 100,000 units in 2015, generating $61M, which reflects strong price erosion. Long-wavelength IR (LWIR) is still limited to high-end cars due to the technology’s high price. Mid-range cars are expected for 2017, with Autoliv’s LWIR product in Europe, but the price is still an issue. In the long-term, several tier-one suppliers are interested in LWIR technology for autonomous cars. But some car makers estimate that the cost/function ratio of LWIR will still be too high for broad adoption and that LWIR will not be a critical function for autonomous cars.
Yole Développement report will give complete market forecasts for LWIR imagers and cameras, with the main market trends by application.
Mobile applications are just around the corner
New consumer oriented applications, such as smartphones and personal vision systems (PVS) will also add significant volume, reaching 261,000 units in 2021. Sensor and camera price erosion will make many new applications possible, such as smart buildings, augmented reality, or robots, which have been inaccessible because of the high price of the technology. Although microbolometer prices have restricted the use of these imagers for smart buildings, ULIS announced in early 2016 that it is now a strategic direction for the company. Other new applications are also envisaged. Microbolometers are an interesting option for medical applications, with projects running in China and other countries. First sales could be seen in 2017.
If we consider an optimistic scenario where thermal imagers are integrated into smart phones, a potential market volume of 11.3M units could be reachable. Actually, the shift to larger volume applications has started already. The ultra-low end market is still expanding and price erosion is driving market volume expansion. New products are coming, such as Reveal and CATS60, which continue to popularize infra-red while reducing price. FLIR, the IR market pioneer, had a very successful 2015 and continues to launch cameras based on its revolutionary Lepton Core.
In this report Yole Développement has analyzed scenarios for uncooled IR imagers and shifts in technologies that will trigger price reductions and large market volumes.
New IR technologies increase competition
After long years of one-on-one conflict between FLIR and ULIS, the uncooled IR market could become a multi-way fight, including Chinese competitors and MEMS and sensor companies like Bosch and Mikrosens. These companies are exploiting MEMS or CMOS manufacturing-line scalability to reduce cost.
New entrants are heading towards non-microbolometer technologies like thermopiles, thermodiodes or pyroelectric sensors. Although pixel sizes are much larger than microbolometer arrays, 90µm versus 12µm, these technologies are good options for thermography or smart building applications. Traditional defense-oriented companies like Raytheon, DRS, L3Com, and BAE Systems are still struggling to find business success in consumer applications. In 2016, FLIR has pursued organic growth through strategic acquisitions like the May 2016 deal for Armasight. All these companies are racing to reduce cost and size with the objective of “Infrared Everywhere”. For microbolometers, 12µm pitch is about to become standard and wafer-level packaging (WLP) approaches are on the roadmap or already used by many players. The manufacturing infrastructure is also critical for cost reduction. 8-inch wafers, scalability of existing CMOS and MEMS production lines are important factors to consider.
Beside front-end evolution, the camera module also has to be considered. Important costly elements include the optics. Suppliers are developing ways to reduce costs to less than $10 for large volume consumer applications. Wafer Level Optics will be the next step for further cost reduction. It is already used in FLIR’s Lepton Core with silicon material and new optics are expected for 2017. These evolutions are creating a dynamic core business, with FLIR having launched its new Boson core in early 2016.
- Latest industry news and analysis of new market entries and exits.
- Up-to-date analysis of more than 10 market segments, including thermography, surveillance, automotive, smartphone, and personal vision systems, with new ruggedized smartphones segment.
- Updated scenario for IR imager integration into smartphones.
- 2015 estimates of sensor manufacturers’ market share and evolution
- Updated market forecasts in $ and units for the 2015-2021 period
- Update of latest technological trends and ongoing developments
- Comparison between microbolometer and other uncooled IR imaging technologies, including pyroelectric sensors, thermopiles and thermodiodes
- Focus on China
Objectives of the Report
The report will give:
- Market data on key uncooled infrared imaging market metrics and dynamics:
- Uncooled infrared imaging system sales in units and revenue by market segment for over 10 market segments
- Uncooled infrared imager sales in units and revenue by market segment
- Market share at uncooled infrared imager level
- In-depth analysis of traditional uncooled IR imaging applications: thermography, automotive, surveillance, firefighting, PVS, marine and military.
- Scenario for wide adoption of uncooled IR imagers in smartphones
- Key technical insights into future technology trends and challenges.
- An in-depth understanding of the IR imaging value chain, infrastructure and players:
- Who are the industrial IR sensor players, including IDMs and foundries, and what is their market and technological position?
- More generally, who are the key players to watch and how will the IR imaging market evolve?