Report: Unmet Needs Stand in the Way of Trillion Sensor Predictions

There are a number of needs that must be met for the widespread proliferation of sensors predicted by industry analysts, according to Lux Research.

Elizabeth Montalbano

February 17, 2016

3 Min Read
Report: Unmet Needs Stand in the Way of Trillion Sensor Predictions

Analysts are predicting that trillions of sensors will soon be in use globally, thanks to the growing adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected-device applications. But there are a number of needs components makers must meet until this prediction can become a reality, according to a report by Lux Research.

The report -- “Identifying Key Sensor Innovations Solving Unmet Needs” by Lux research associate Tiffany Huang -- identifies four major needs spanning multiple applications that currently remain unresolved. They are power consumption, form factor, sensitivity and cost, Huang told Design News in an interview.

Meeting these needs means not only an improvement in current sensor applications, but also the emergence of new ones, including voice tracking, accurate sports motion tracking, and portable allergen detection, among others, she said.

There are a number of needs that must be met by components makers like STMicroelectronics for sensors like this one to become as widespread as analysts are predicting, according to a new report by Lux Research.
(Source: STMicroelectronics)

There are several reasons these needs in particular are key to the proliferation of sensors, according to the report.

Power consumption, for instance, increases the cost of using a device and controls how often a battery needs to be changed or charged, both of which are sources of irritation to consumers. To get power consumption under better control, then -- i.e., in the form of creating sensors that are ultra low power -- will open up more possibilities for applications and make sensors and devices generally more user-friendly, according to Huang.

Form factor also is an important area of innovation for broad sensor deployment, according to the report. As sensors become more sophisticated in terms of functionality, they also can be impractically large to fit into desired applications, Huang said. This is why form factors appropriate to applications must be invented as sensor use evolves, she said.

To meet these needs, engineers must develop key innovations in the form of new technologies and applications. The leading innovations to address the needs include low-power peripherals, energy harvesting, sensor packaging, and new sensor types, Huang said.


Of these technologies, only the non-sensor portion of low-power peripherals are the most readily available and the easiest for makers of sensor devices to incorporate because they can be easily manufactured at foundries, she said.

The responsibility to develop these enabling technologies lies on the shoulders of incumbent sensor players, Huang said. “For example, sensor companies like STMicroelectronics will need to work with a sensor packaging company like Amkor, while a semiconductor company like Texas Instruments will need to acquire novel startups like Ambiq Micro,” she said.

As sensor adoption continues, Huang said consumer devices like smartphones are the obvious area of growth, with automotive applications, home and building automation, and healthcare opportunities also poised for strong adoption in the next years.

However, she noted that major use cases that span multiple industries is a “more effective way” to observe where sensor adoption will take place rather than narrowing it down to specific industries or applications. “Specifically, we expect strong demand to stem from the need for security (property/human/network/food), health (asset/human), sensors for safety (vehicle/machine/human), mapping (navigation/asset management), and automation,” Huang said.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 15 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga, and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano

Elizabeth Montalbano has been a professional journalist covering the telecommunications, technology and business sectors since 1998. Prior to her work at Design News, she has previously written news, features and opinion articles for Phone+, CRN (now ChannelWeb), the IDG News Service, Informationweek and CNNMoney, among other publications. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she also has lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco and New York City. She currently resides in Lagos, Portugal. Montalbano has a bachelor's degree in English/Communications from De Sales University and a master's degree from Arizona State University in creative writing.

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