Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bourne Research: Device Drivers a Major Hurdle to Growth of MEMS Sensors in Cell Phones

According to Bourne Research, "cell phones have long been targeted as a major end-use application for MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) sensors, and accelerometers in particular, but widespread integration hinges on the development of device drivers, not the sensors themselves." MEMS suppliers are having a difficult time moving into the consumer electronics space, because unlike the automotive industry, customers don't want to write their own code for device drivers.

Marlene Bourne at Bourne Research said, "At this point, it appears that cell phone manufacturers are still not convinced that MEMS sensors are worth spending the money necessary to create the device drivers needed, mostly because there's uncertainty about whether consumers will like MEMS-enabled features enough to pay more for them. As a result, handset manufacturers currently expect a total solution, one which MEMS sensor suppliers are unable to provide, nor can they do so on their own. Partnerships will be required, but those have their own issues."

Bourne Research beliieves "the need for device drivers provides an opportunity for those who specialize in embedded software development; however, partnerships with MEMS suppliers may be difficult to put into place - for both start-ups and large semiconductor players alike. Given the potential system-wide impact of MEMS sensors on cell phones, and the number of device drivers required to accommodate all of the possible functions, it's a tough challenge; and there's a lot at stake for MEMS suppliers - integrating sensors into just ten percent of all cell phones shipped annually would be a major coup for the industry."