The growth of IR detector industry is driven by smart buildings and mobile phones applications


  • Driven by smart lighting, smart buildings, and mobile devices, the infrared (IR) detector market will reach about US$500 million by 2020.
  • The next growth opportunities will be outside traditional markets, in smart buildings and mobile phones.
  • Technological developments to succeed in driving cost down in arrays: US$10 is the target.
  • In a chaing supply chain, there are still opportunities for new entrants.

IR detectors are today used for a wide range of functions including motion detection, temperature measurement, people counting, and fire & gas detection within numerous markets such as building, security, appliances, industry and consumer. According to the latest technology & market analysis from Yole Développement (Yole), entitled Infrared Detector Technology & Market Trends (2015 edition), the total IR detector market reached 247 million units in 2014 and generated a global revenue of US$ 209 million. In this report, Yole’s analysts highlight the rapid growth of this market: thus, they announce +14% CAGR between 2015 and 2020 (in units). During this period, five applications among the nine applications identified by Yole’s experts, will drive the IR detector market revenue growth. They are: spot thermometry in mobiles devices, motion detection, smart building, HVAC and other medium array applications and people counting. “The next growth opportunities will be outside traditional markets, in smart buildings and mobile devices,” comments Yann de Charentenay, Senior, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. Yole, the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company announces it new imaging technology & market analysis, Infrared Detector Technology & Market Trends (2015 edition). Compared to the previous edition, Yole’s analysts propose an overview of the current technological trends and on-going developments. They detail the latest industry news, the analysis of the new market entrants & exits as well as the changes in market forecasts. In this edition, Yole’s team also introduces a new product segment, the linear array products, used in HVAC and spectroscopy. Yole’s report gives an in-depth analysis of the spot thermometry in mobiles devices and HVAC applications.

Driven by smart lighting, smart buildings and mobile devices, the IR detector market will reach about US$500 million in 2020. This combination of traditional and new markets is an important fact within the IR detector market today. Yole’s analysts detail the phenomenon per application below:

  • Small detector applications:

The motion detection market is the biggest IR detector business by far with almost half of total revenue. This mature market will still growing at a fast rate until 2020, +10%/year, thanks to the dynamic lighting market increasingly integrating IR detectors in order to provide smart lighting systems.
From the other side, mobile device players are very interested in having an IR spot thermometer function to measure body temperature. The first wearable applications have already started. Smartphones are the next step if technical challenges are solved, with getting sufficiently high accuracy the biggest one. Detector manufacturers are confident that they will find solutions.

  • Array detectors, ranging from medium size (4×4 to 16×16 pixels) to large size (32×32 and above):

They are expected to grow at an approximately +26% CAGR over the 2015-2020 period. Medium size arrays are increasingly implemented for better comfort by Japanese HVAC systems manufacturers such as Daikin, Mitsubishi and Hitachi. Large arrays are also deployed widely and successfully for retail sector people counting by Irisys/Fluke. They will be widely introduced into a key new market, smart buildings, in 2016 thanks to new products introduced at lower prices, between US$10-20. These sensors provide a wide variety of useful functions for BMS in order centrally manage lighting, door and window opening and HVAC.

In parallel, Yole’s team highlights the evolution of the IR detector supply chain. According to Yole’s analysts, there are still opportunities for new entrants… “Infrared detector market growth and emerging applications are attracting new players at various levels of the supply chain and thus are changing the competitive landscape,” says Yann de Charentenay from Yole. At the IR detector integrators’ level, Yole distinguishes two main groups:

  • In the small motion detectors & smart buildings field, lighting is the main building function using IR detectors. Lighting manufacturers like Philips Lighting are increasingly providing such sensors to climb the value chain and thus compete with controls companies like Schneider Electric, Siemens and Honeywell. Motion detectors are a first step before going into more intelligent array detectors for smart buildings.
  • In the mobile business, multiple sensors integrated into a module and called ‘sensor hubs’ are increasingly used by mobile phone makers in order to facilitate sensor integration. Which sensor hubs and which company will integrate the new IR spot thermometer function? Will it be inertial hubs from the likes of ST, Invensense and Bosch, environmental hubs from companies like Knowles, Sensirion, Bosch, and ST, or optical hubs from players including Sony, Omnivision or AMS? Regarding the IR detector suppliers, the small pyroelectric motion detector market is quite stable with three big players, Excelitas, Nicera and Murata. By contrast, medium and large array products are much more open in terms of potential technologies, including pyroelectric detectors, thermopiles, microbolometers and thermodiodes, which enables various new entrant profiles, from start up like IRLYNX, to large groups like Bosch. New entrants from businesses including IR imaging, thermopiles, or even mainstream semiconductor, could also acquire incumbent players.

Yole’s IR detector report includes market insights in units and revenue broken down by market segment and also by detector resolution. It also analyses the current competitive landscape by technology and by company profile, broken down in to startups, SMEs and large groups. Moreover, Yole also proposes in this study, a detailed analysis of the new entrants potential and acquisitions targets… A detailed description of this report is available on, Imaging reports section.



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