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Robert Bosch Engineering set to build MEMS-based products

Last Updated 28 April 2015, 18:09 IST

Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions, part of the €48.9 billion German automotive technology giant Robert Bosch, is betting big on the MEMS-based sensor technology.

In an interaction with Deccan Herald, Robert Bosch Electronics Engineering division General Manager Uday Prabhu said the 100-odd strong MEMS team has achieved a good maturity level and is progressing to build products.

“In the MEMs area, we do the design and testing from India. We have a core team of expert ASIC design engineers and architects in semiconductor design from India. We have taken up a few full project responsibilities all the way from design to tape-out for MEMS devices. We are building products where MEMS is used, like telematics and robotics (example: the Bosch Autonomous Lawn Mower),” he said.

MEMS is the technology of very small devices and it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and nanotechnology. It consists of a central unit that processes sensor data and several components that interact with the surroundings.

Since 1995, Bosch has manufactured about €5 billion MEMS sensors and globally one out of every two phones has a Bosch sensor. Fabrication of MEMS is done from the German plant.

Sensors based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology accounted for 80 per cent of sales in 2014. “MEMS-based product sales grew about five per cent to a record-high $7.4 billion in 2014 from $7 billion in 2013,” noted IC Insights.

Bosch started MEMS business with automotive applications for measuring vehicle stability, crash detection, etc., then found its way into consumer devices like mobiles.

“The next growth of MEMS will be in the internet of things (IoT) space such as wearables for fitness, sport, consumer, home and gaming applications. We are now adding more features such as environment-sensing for indoor air quality,” Prabhu said.

When asked about MEMS- based business opportunities in India, Prabhu said lot of traction will happen in telematics, household applications, smart homes, machine monitoring, etc. “It is expected to play a big role in multiple dimensions related to motion, location and environment. Wearables, telematics, robotics and IoT are potential business focus areas where India has a lot of opportunities,”he said.

As per latest IC Insights report, worldwide sensor sales in 2014 reached a record $5.7 billion, after experiencing a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.1 per cent between 2009 and 2014.

Bosch’s competitors in MEMS include Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, Hewlett-Packard and Knowles. Bosch is the undisputed market leader with a 20 per cent revenue growth in 2014 and sales revenue totaling $1.2 billion, states market research firms IHS and Yole Développement.

Apple boosted Bosch’s MEMS revenue in 2014 again as Bosch is the sole supplier of pressure sensors embedded in iPhone 6 and 6+.

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(Published 28 April 2015, 18:09 IST)

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