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In Transition, Sensor Market Is Seen Riding IoT Wave 2020-08-21

The sensor market is among the technology sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Already rocked by the decline of fossil fuels and internal combustion engines as well as the commoditization of existing sensor technologies, Covid-19 has further clouded the picture of the automotive sensor market.

The sensor business is in turmoil,” concludes IDTechEx in a survey of the post-Covid sensor market.

Cost, not demand, is the problem. Struggling auto makers, for example, need all the LiDAR sensor that can get their hands on, but unit costs remain high.

In contrast, volume production for emerging markets like biosensors such as glucose monitors appears to be one way out of the sensor sector’s current dilemma. IDTechEx also sees an emerging market for incorporating sensors into municipal water supplies and power grids, perhaps offsetting declines in the energy sector.

Indeed, innovation in sensor technology is advancing. The market analyst estimates more than 80 new patents have been granted targeting applications ranging from automotive radar and LiDAR to biosensors along with printed and flexible sensors. Japan leads the way, accounting for three quarters of the 16 top patent recipients. Samsung Electronics is the only non-Japanese company in the top five, that includes Canon, Toyota, Panasonic and Toshiba, in that order.

Meanwhile, edge sensors installed as nodes within Internet of Things deployments are seen as sure-fire big data generators. Once wide-band, low-latency 5G networks are rolled out, sensor networks are expected to become ubiquitous.

Among them are municipal water networks and wastewater treatment plants. IDTechEx predicts the sensor market for water pipe networks alone could exceed $3.5 billion by 2030.

Wired water works could generate a flood of new data. “Collecting data on the flow in water pipes allows companies to quickly identify regions where there is an increase in demand, and as a result, lower pressure in the pipes,” the market tracker said in a report released in mid-August. “Utility companies can correlate their usage data with current events” and perhaps used those data to predict a crisis before it occurs.

Among the sensor technologies needed to make predictive analytics a reality are pressure measurement devices, flow meters, acoustic emission (otherwise known as leakage) along with temperature and chemical sensors. The latter could track metrics like pH and trace metals.

Moreover, municipal water managers could adopt the same sensor technologies currently used by chip makers to monitor water supplies for trace elements.

Those sensor upgrades would augment current systems such as smart water meters used to track water consumption, IDTechEx noted.


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