The Sensors market, like the semiconductor market in general, has been a bit schizophrenic. In the first half of last year, the market was as quiet and still as a predawn unruffled lake. Then, the second half sparkled and bubbled like fine Champagne. In the fourth quarter of the last year, ST popped the cork, achieving the highest-ever quarterly volume shipments in the history of its MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) and sensors business!
ST owes this successful journey to our best-in-class products being perfectly positioned to benefit from the wide acceptance and adoption of MEMS-enabled features in wearables, the IoT, and mobile phones—particularly in the motion MEMS market. Products like our ultra-low-power 6-axis inertial measurement unit, our gyroscope for optical image stabilization, and our pressure sensor all gained market share in smartphones and wearables worldwide. Coupled to the success of our STM32 family of microcontrollers and the simple and easy development and prototyping available on the STM32 Open Development Environment, ST is unique among semiconductor suppliers in its ability to meet developers’ needs.
Adding to the successful adoption and unit growth of our MEMS, our automotive and industrial MEMS results continued to find applications and customers, with strong demand for multi-axis gyroscopes in navigation systems, and our latest generation 6-axis inertial measurement unit, the LSM6DSM, riding a wave of demand from Android-Nougat-based products as a result of our certification for Google DayDream and Tango, to deliver incredible, immersive Virtual and Augmented Reality on Android mobile devices.
We introduced SensorTile, a miniaturized wireless multisensory module, in December. The product found quick recognition among developers and that its features met a market need. Those features are packed onto a tiny 13.5mm x 13.5mm cradle board. They include a Bluetooth Low-Energy transceiver and a broad set of system interfaces supporting its use as a sensor hub or platform. To top it off, its vast software development ecosystem includes Application Program Interface (API) based on the popular STM32 Open Development Environment.
And ST has extended the successes of these winning products with its innovative, market-creating Time-of-Flight ranging sensors. These unique sensors have continued to capture interest and grow due to requests from leading smartphone manufacturers.
So there you have it: the basis for solid sensor market growth above the overall semiconductor market in 2017.