MEMS in games, gadgets grows

Nov. 13, 2002 — Consumer electronics makers will put MEMS devices in more products because they offer more performance and functionality for the same or lower price. But the expanding market comes with growing pains, according to a new report.

“MEMS and Consumer Electronics: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back,” published by In-Stat/MDR, reports that technology is moving forward in device development, increased unit shipments and price reductions. The report forecasts unit shipments of MEMS devices for consumer electronics products increasing from 5.2 million in 2001 to nearly 190 million in 2006.

The “step back” referred to in the title comes from disputes that could arise from a method patent held by a company that has developed a gyro for an optical computer mouse. Marlene Bourne, In-Stat’s MEMS analyst, said Gyration Inc.’s technology does not incorporate MEMS, but the company has patent claims that could affect future development of accelerometers used for tilting and scrolling functions in personal digital assistants, handheld games and joysticks.

Bourne said Gyration’s claims do not affect other uses of MEMS accelerometers, such as in electronic toys, or optical MEMS, radio frequency (RF) MEMS, pressure sensors and display technologies in consumer electronics. Revenues for MEMS in the sector are expected to rise from $124.3 million in 2001 to $613.5 million in 2006, the report said.


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