Increasing Demand for Industrial Automation, Smartphone Photography in the U.S. Boosts Demand for Image Sensors

Image sensors are electronic devices that compile light coming from a source frame and compose an image out of it. The light sets off an electrical current in the image sensor. Due to the non-uniform nature of the light falling on an image sensor, different light waves set off different types of electric currents. This difference is crucial in creating an image of the source of the light. Apart from photography, there are several applications of image sensors in the healthcare, military, computers, and automotive industries.

According to Transparency Market Research, the U.S. image sensors market is expected to be valued at US$3.7 bn by 2017. The market was valued at US$2 bn in 2011 and is exhibiting a robust 11.10% CAGR between 2011 and 2017.

Which is the dominant type of image sensors in the U.S. market?

By product type, the U.S. image sensors market is segmented into linear image sensors, CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensors, and X-ray image sensors. Of these, linear image sensors accounted for more than 84% of the U.S. market in 2011 and have remained similarly dominant through the forecast period. The cheaper production cost of CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensors has allowed the linear image sensors segment register sustained dominance in the U.S. image sensors market. The increasing demand for high-quality cameras in smartphones has also been beneficial for the linear image sensors market, as most high-end smartphone makers use CMOS cameras in their models.

Despite this, CCD image sensors have a considerable application scope in medical and other non-photographical imaging. ON Semiconductor, for instance, recently announced the development of an 8-megapixel image sensor that is twice as sensitive to near-infrared light as the company’s preexisting CCD image sensors.

The extra sensitivity makes the sensor useful in medical imaging, where it can be used to examine samples that give off considerable amounts of infrared light, and in intelligent transportation systems, where infrared vision allows for easier differentiation and identification in a potentially crowded and confusing environment. The rising demand for advanced image sensors from these two fields is a crucial driver for the image sensor market in the coming years.

What are the most lucrative opportunities for the image sensors market in the coming years?

The booming consumer electronics industry is the most important driver for the image sensors industry. The rising demand for smartphones, tablets, and webcam-enabled laptops has led to sustained demand for image sensors. The incorporation of top-notch camera modules in high-end smartphones has also raised the bar for the overall smartphones market, with even entry-level smartphones now offering better cameras than some flagship models in the last few years. As the leading technological hub of the global consumer electronics market, this steady and relentless progression has provided image sensor manufacturers in the U.S. a steady revenue channel as well as a handy guide to evaluate their R&D channels.

The increasing automation of the industrial sector in the U.S. has also led to a steady demand for machine vision, which has driven the demand for image sensors. The expanding coverage of intelligent transport systems also augurs promise for the U.S. image sensors market, as highly refined camera units will be required to monitor and analyze traffic.

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