ST plans to pivot MEMS expertise into industrial uptake

May 09, 2018 //By Peter Clarke
ST plans to pivot MEMS expertise into industrial uptake
STMicroelectronics NV, ranked second global MEMS supplier behind Bosch, has said it wants to use its investment in consumer MEMS sensors to support advanced industrial applications and drive a third wave of MEMS deployment.

ST said it plans to use its expertise developed with consumer MEMS to provide components for advanced industrial applications. A range of industrial sensors will be covered by a 10-year service life commitment.

The IS3DHHC 3-axis low-noise accelerometer, is the first MEMS sensor to be introduced under this initiative and offers inclinometer accuracy. It will be followed by the launch of other industrial MEMS sensors in 2018, the company said.

Although Motorola developed early MEMS pressure sensors in the 1980s the first large scale deployment of MEMS came with their use for accelerometers in automotive air-bag applications in the 1990s. At the same time MEMS actuators found deployment in ink-jet printers.

The second major wave of deployment was the use of accelerometers for inertial applications in smartphones and other consumer goods where they are used for control of screen orientation and dead reckoning and orientation in navigation applications.

It is notable that the smartphone market, now worth billions of units per year, has like the tablet computer market, saturated and the value of the market is tending to decline.

Bosch was one company that was able to benefit from starting in automotive MEMS deployment and then leverage that expertise as it entered into consumer markets. Moving in the other direction, from relatively low-specification consumer MEMS to higher-specification industrial devices may not be so easy. However, it may possible to produce economies of scale through common silicon that is customized for different applications by way of conditioning circuitry, packaging and test.  

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