This research report analyzes, estimates, and forecasts the global image sensors industry. Image sensors convert optical images into electrical signals, and have helped replace legacy film cameras. Digital cameras have witnessed increasing demand over the past few years, which can primarily be attributed to proliferation of mobile phones. Digital cameras use an array of photosites or light cavities to record the desired image. The amount of light used by the camera to create the image depends upon the size of the image sensor incorporated. Larger sensors allow manufacturers to enhance the resolution of the camera, giving rise to more detailed images. However, they significantly increase the size of the resultant device. As a result, very small image sensors are used in smartphones in order to ensure portability. On the other hand, digital cameras such as DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are fitted with larger sensors to address the need of superior image quality. The global market was valued at USD 8,450 million in 2012, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.6% from 2014 to 2020.
Key technology segments analyzed and reported in this study include charge-coupled device (CCD), Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) and contact image sensors (CIS). CCD image sensors have numerous capacitors that get charged in accordance to the amount of light falling on them. This is then converted to a numerical value in order to produce the resultant image. These sensors are particularly useful in medical and scientific devices; however, the segment has been losing market share on account of CMOS image sensors, which are expected to dominate the overall market over the forecast period. CMOS image sensors comprise a number of transistors; they also contain a photo detector that detects light and converts it to an optical signal. In addition to low light sensitivity and high quality images, CMOS image sensors allow random pixel access, enabling features including image stabilization and electronic pan and tilt. They are portable and consume considerably lesser power at lower prices as compared to their counterparts. Camera manufactures have developed backside illumination (BSI), which captures incoming light with the photodiode layer on the backside of the device. Reducing form factors of smartphones have tablets and technological advancements have driven sophistication. With growing attention on the specification of consumer electronics, manufacturers have been aiming to enhance CMOS sensor resolution. However, reducing the sensor’s pixel pitch results in decreasing incident light, thereby lowering sensitivity. This drawback is effectively overcome using BSI, which does not affect the amount of light captured and light sensitivity. Contact image sensors are a type of optical flatbed scanners; they do not use conventional CCD arrays. CIS gather light from red, green and blue and direct the light at the document to be scanned. The reflected light is then directed at an image sensor array which is located under the document to be scanned. Images are recorded in accordance with the intensity of the light hitting the sensor. CIS scanner can be used in smaller products due to their compact nature; additionally, they require less power.
Global Image Sensors Revenue, by Technology, 2012
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Key applications analyzed in this study include automotive, consumer electronics, defense & aerospace, industrial, surveillance and medical among others. Other applications primarily include the use of image sensors for document scanning. Automotive image sensors are typically used for scene viewing and scene processing. Shrinking parking spaces has led to growing adoption of parking assistance systems in automobiles. The use of reverse parking camera aids in prevention of damage to human beings as well as to the automotive itself, which is a key contributor to increasing demand. Unprecedented demand for consumer electronics such as mobile phones and tablets is expected to be the key driving force for market growth. Consumer electronics and automotive together accounted for around 55% of the global market share in 2012. In the defense sector, cameras need to be made capable of performing in harsh conditions. Shutter performance is also of critical importance, in order to capture images of fast-moving objects. Although CCD image sensors prove superior in these settings, CMOS sensor manufacturers have been focusing on improving shutter performance. Additionally, CMOS sensors enable lower power camera designs, which is important for systems that need to run on batteries in the field. Other parameters to be considered in this segment include longer product lifetimes as well as smaller size and weight that enable wearable solutions. Growing concerns regarding security and privacy have driven image sensor demand in surveillance applications. Video surveillance activities are on the rise; they play a major role in boosting safety and detecting unlawful activities, thus fueling market growth. The healthcare segment is expected to be a key growth avenue over the next few years. Endoscopy (rigid and flexible) is made possible with the help of image sensors, fuelled by growing need for minimally invasive solutions and imaging techniques. They are also an integral component for facilitating digital radiography and ophthalmology, for example in fundus cameras.
North America accounted for 35.5% of the market in 2012. However, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing regional market, with an estimated CAGR of 6.0% from 2014 to 2020. This is primarily on account of high demand from application areas in the region. Growth in disposable income has positively impacted demand for consumer electronics. Smartphones have been increasingly equipped with primary as well as secondary cameras in order to enable video calling and related services. Furthermore, integration of webcams in laptops has been driving the industry on a regional and global level. The trend of sharing images over social networking websites and presence of first-time buyers of digital cameras have resulted in increased product demand in Asia Pacific. Consumers have been investing in compact point & shoot cameras, as well as DSLRs to capture images. Growing replacement demand for these products in North America and Europe are the key growth drivers in mature markets.
The global image sensors market is moderately concentrated, with key participants looking at product innovation in order to gain market share. On account of continual up gradation of end-use devices, ensuring seamless integration and high quality is of crucial importance to stay competitive. Major market players include notable companies such as Sony Corporation, Aptina Imaging, Samsung Electronics, Canon Inc., OmniVision, etc. Sony announced in January 2014 that it would invest USD 340 million to boost image sensor production in order to capitalize on the growing smartphone market. The company also aims to increase CMOS image sensor production in the coming years.