The digital compass market is expected to witness considerable growth over the forecast period. Growth is largely driven by the insistent demand for handheld electronic devices such as watches, smartphones, tablets, GPS, and other connected devices.
Rising demand for simpler user interfaces and better access to technologies have resulted in the development of digital compass. Its use in navigation has become a standard requirement in smartphones, gaming devices, and tablets, which in turn is expected to substantially increase market growth.
With the introduction of GPS, digital compasses still hold its virtue due to the fact that GPS is itself a fairly limited technology. A GPS by itself is just able to provide the information where the device is. The GPS cannot determine the direction in which the device is facing; in order to determine the direction, the GPS should be moving. As compasses do not rely on GPS signals to determine the direction, they are a vital part of GPS device, thereby driving their growth over the forecast period.
In a basic form, electronic compasses naturally accompany navigation features of GPS in portable navigation devices. Electronic compasses enhance the positioning of GPS devices by providing directional information with significant built-in accuracy, making it considerably useful in location-based services and other applications. Key application areas include industrial, personal, construction, transportation, and military applications.
The incoming deployment of new standards such as LTE and LTE-A has a negative impact on RF components of conventional devices, and is envisioned to open new opportunities for online services and location-based tracking services using increased amount of sensors.
An innovation in location-based service vertical is the launch of “View,” an application for smartphones. Through this application, using smartphone’s camera and compass, users can point a smartphone to an object such as an apartment and retrieve relevant information on nearby places of interest such as malls, theatres, and shops.
Sony’s move controller for PlayStation 3 and the next-gen controller for Nintendo Wii are expected to feature three sensors in order to deliver smoother, more stable, more accurate, and faster motion control along with Quality of Experience (QoE).
The intermediary verticals in the value chain include suppliers, component manufacturers, integrators as well as end-users.
Suppliers include the vendors of raw materials such as equipment, wafer, and materials, which are used to manufacture hardware of electronic compasses. Key suppliers in the industry include Applied Materials, SUSS MicroTec, ASML Corp., SCHOTT, MEMS Star, and Praxair.
Component manufacturers are the intermediaries who manufacture the product by using resources and raw materials, as received from the supplier. Key component manufacturers include Atmel, Philips, Honeywell, Bosch, Toshiba, Canon, and Qualcomm.
Finally, integrators and end-users include the consumers or the intermediaries who integrate component with GPS and other navigation devices. Key integrators and end-users include Apple, Seagate, Sony, Panasonic, BAE Systems, Mitsubishi Precision, Garmin, and Siemens.
The industry is fragmented with extensive players confined in it. Key players in the industry include ST Microelectronics, Robert Bosch, Texas Instruments, Asahi Kasei Microdevices, Bell Automotive Products, Baolab Microsystems, Garmin, Honeywell International, Sparton Corporation, and BARIGO Barometerfabrik GmbH. Apart from these, Aichi Steel Corporation, RoboSail Systems, Kusaba Engineers, KVH Industries, Silva Sweden, Ocean Server Technologies, and PNI Sensors are also gaining considerable market strength.
In February 2013, InvenSense launched second-generation MPU-9250 nine-axis MEMS motion tracking device for smartphones, tablets, wearable sensors, and other consumer devices. The product’s key features include compact size and low power consumption.
In July 2012, AKM launched three-axis AK8963C for portable appliances. It features one-chip compass architecture and a wide range of measurements.
In July 2012, ST Microelectronics came up with high performance LSM303D digital e-compass module. The company reduced e-compass module roughly to the size of a single function, stand-alone motion sensors.
In 2014, Baolab launched 3D MEMS for the cost-effective segment. This low cost product is designed for smartphones and tablets.
The global manufacturers are concentrated in countries such as the U.S., the UK, Europe, and China. The U.S. is presumed to be a predominant region due to the innovative technologies offering advanced software and hardware and high awareness pertaining to the location-based services among consumers.
Asia Pacific is expected to emerge as a high growth market over the forecast period owing to increasing demand for smartphones. China and India are perceived to behold placid growth in future. Huge demand potential and low labor costs are expected to help China and India emerge as a worldwide hub for digital compass manufacturing industries.
EMEA is anticipated to show significant growth in the industry over the forecast period, but competition, market saturation, and political instability are expected to impact growth in some regions.
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