Voice assistants are benefiting the MEMS industry

An article written by Anne-Francoise Pelé for EETIMES Europe – Voice-based applications are becoming more and more popular for the ease-of-use and convenience they provide. Since their inception in the 2010s, voice-based personal assistants (VPAs) such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant have proliferated in smartphones, smart speakers, smart watches, hearables, cars, smart TVs and their remote controls. Today VPAs are the main driver for the audio industry and offer strong growth perspectives. 

The global consumer market for microphones, microspeakers and audio ICs is expected to grow at a healthy CAGR of 6.6 percent, from $14.1 billion in 2018 to $20.8 billion in 2024, according to market research firm Yole Développement (Lyon, France). 

Smartphones down, smart speakers up

At this year’s CES, Alexa was everywhere. From motorcycle helmets to shower heads to toothbrushes to $5,000 mattresses, Amazon’s voice assistant is crossing the borders of smartphones to become ubiquitous in our lives. This high penetration, also true for competing VPAs, creates an opportunity for microphones, microspeakers, audio codecs, and audio amplifiers. 

Cheap, small and easy to integrate, microphones are broadly adopted and reach very high volumes. “We speak about 6 billion microphones,” said Dimitrios Damianos, Technology & Market analyst in the photonics and sensing division at Yole. The microphone market, which currently accounts for $1.7 billion, is expected to increase at a CAGR of 3 percent to $2 billion in 2024. 

As voice-based VPAs demand better signal-to-noise ratio to accurately capture human-voice in noisy environments, new market possibilities are coming for MEMS microphones. 

The MEMS microphone market, which represents about 70 percent of the total, will grow from $1.2 billion in 2018 to $1.6 billion in 2024. Key driving markets include the smartphones, smart speakers as well as hearables (e.g. wireless earbuds). “In the last couple of years, the smart speakers and hearable markets have experienced an explosive growth,” said Damianos. Basically, MEMS microphones in smart speakers will grow at a CAGR of 13 percent to 1.2 billion units in 2024. In wireless earbuds, they will expand at a CAGR of 29 percent, to 1.3 billion units in 2024. 

In the meantime, Yole said it expects the microspeaker market to grow at a CAGR of 3 percent, from $9.1 billion to $10.9 billion in 2024.

“This might seem like a modest growth,” said Damianos. But, in 2018 and 2019, the smartphone market slowed down, probably because smartphones are increasingly expensive and users are waiting longer before upgrading them. “Before you would replace your phone every 1.5 year, now it is every 2.5 years, and it is increasing,” he continued. As a matter of fact, “we would expect the microphone and microspeaker markets to drop.” But, “the exploding growth of hearables and smart speakers offset the difference. VPAs are driving the integration of microphones and microspeakers in all these devices.”Full article

Source: https://www.eetimes.eu

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