Disruptive technologies and emerging applications will make the gas sensor market skyrocket!
Gas sensors on the verge of massive market adoption
Air quality is becoming a major concern, and therefore gas sensors are increasingly attracting interest. Gas sensing technologies are not new. Gas sensors embedded in gas detectors for defense and industrial safety applications form a highly regulated and mature market. But the growing awareness of the air quality challenge humankind faces is creating new applications and opportunities. These include gas sensors in consumer products like home devices, wearables and smartphones, or for buildings and cars, including indoor/in-cabin air quality monitoring.
Yole Développement’s Gas Sensor report estimates that the gas sensor market is currently growing, driven by Heating, Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) and future consumer applications. It was worth $560M in 2014 and will reach almost $920M in 2021, at 7.3% CAGR. An upside market of almost $65M in 2021 is possible if gas sensors are widely adopted in consumers products.
There are numerous market drivers that will contribute to the growth:
• Driven by better energy management, the building market will experience 13.6% CAGR for a total market estimated at $237M in 2021.
• The medical industry is looking for very high sensitivity for asthma attack sensors or oxygen sensors for breath control.
• Consumer applications such as wearables and smartphones are driving the development of new gas sensors to reduce cost, power consumption and size with MEMS technologies.
• Driven by the desire for better outdoor air quality control, the environmental market will grow at almost 19% CAGR.
• The transport market is driven by oxygen sensors and future depollution applications.
The consumer market is very attractive as it can drive very large volumes depending on user case adoption, cost and technical maturity. The smartphone industry has revolutionized the sensor industry as mobile applications today aggregate ever more sensors. Gas sensors could be the next to be integrated in smart phones and/or wearables. As we believe that user cases are crucial for wide adoption of gas sensors in consumer products, we have built a list of potential applications and benchmarked them.
Our report describes three different scenarios for the consumer application:
- Realistic scenario: for the next few years, we foresee slow adoption of gas sensors by mobile manufacturers. Only Tier 2 and 3 smartphone manufacturers will embed gas sensors in mobiles.
- Optimistic scenario: we assume integration of gas sensors in a major smartphone model in 2016 and growing adoption for the next five years. This scenario is dependent on technical maturity and cost.
- “Rollercoaster” scenario: we simulate integration of gas sensors in a major smartphone model in 2016. But, one year later, the sensor will be removed by the company due to the absence of a clear user case. This case study is similar to the adoption and removal of the humidity sensor in the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Our optimistic scenario estimates a market volume of 350 million units in 2021.
An extremely fragmented market
There are plenty of gas sensor applications, each with their own technical requirements, such as the gases to be measured, sensitivity and selectivity, response time, lifetime and power consumption. Each also has its own business requirements including regulations, target price, maturity of the market and competition.
Yole Développement analysts have developed a dedicated methodology to build our unique market segmentation. Both technical and behavioral criteria are used in order to create a market segment. Consequently each segment includes players that have the same needs.
Yole Développement has classified gas sensors in six different market segments:
- Consumer: Gas sensors embedded in consumer products including home devices, wearable electronics and mobile phones
- HVAC: Gas sensors used for indoor/in-cabin air quality monitoring
- Transport: Gas sensors used for exhaust gas measurement or in engine control for heavy duty vehicles
- Medical: Gas sensors used for breath analysis in ventilation and point of care
- Defense and Industrial Safety
- Environment: Gas sensors used to monitor air quality and pollution peaks
Technology battle: More than size matters
Gas sensing technology is a complex field with nine different approaches. In general, the right selection for gas sensing technology will depend on price, form factor, power consumption, sensitivity and response time.
Semiconductor technology (MOS) has the largest range of applications, spanning medical, transport, HVAC, consumer, and longest lifetime, from 5-10 years. Catalytic and electrochemical are ‘old’ technologies with short lifetimes, below five years, mostly used for defense and industrial applications.
Optical technologies have the highest accuracy and longest lifetime but are not widely used in transport because the environment is tough and cost pressure is high. They are largely used in HVAC, especially Non Dispersive Infrared sensors (NDIR). Further integration will open the way to portable systems for industrial applications. Optical technologies such as NDIR, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR), chemiluminescence, and microchromatography are very accurate but bulky and costly with high power consumption in some cases. NDIR is an optical technology that can achieve very low power consumption when photodiodes are used with LEDs.
MEMS is not a new detection principle but a new manufacturing platform that allows further miniaturization of existing technologies such as:
- MOS, as developed by Micronas, Microsens, ams, Synkera, CCMOS, KWJ Engineering, Figaro
- IR, developed by CCMOS and eLichens
- Chromatography, developed by Spectral Engines, APIX and EcoLogicSense
New players want market share
The consumer market’s large volumes are hugely attractive. For this application, sensors require good sensitivity, reliability, and low cost, small form factor and low power budget. MOS seems to be the best candidate as cost and size fit the requirements for wearables and smartphones. However, as smartphones get more sensors, power consumption is becoming critical and sensors therefore need to be very low power today. Furthermore, MOS sensor sensitivity isn’t very good. Surprisingly, with the latest achievements in size reduction of optical gas sensors based on NDIR, this technology is now challenging MOS technology for consumer applications. NDIR sensors are already used in home products.
Newcomers in gas sensing bring very innovative approaches based on existing MEMS and optical integration platforms. These companies are often fabless, relying on a foundry partner for volume production. For example, CCMOS works with X-Fab and TSMC, and Spectral Engines works with VTT. Gas sensors can therefore be new opportunities for semiconductor and MEMS front-end foundries looking for more business. These sensors are often bulky, so Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) companies can also supply innovative packaging technologies. The report provides an extensive list of newcomers entering the gas sensing market.
Objectives of the Report
This report’s objectives are to:
- Understand existing and future gas sensing technologies
- Obtain a clear understanding of gas sensor applications through an outstanding market segmentation
- Provide technical and economic requirements by segment
- Scenario analysis for the integration of gas sensors in smartphones
- Key players mapping at application and system level
- Supply chain analysis, collaborations