What are MEMS Sensors?

Small machines shape the future of technology.

By on July 9, 2013

Many new elements of mobile devices that consumers crave are enabled by Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors.

These sensors, which vary in in their makeup and functionality, are small machines within mobile devices that interact with the surrounding environment to process several different types of data. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S4, which takes advantage of MEMS technology, includes an infrared gesture sensor and a sensor for temperature and humidity.

In the form of microphones, cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, MEMS sensors are now must-haves for developers of the newest mobile devices. These sensors enable innovative services such as augmented reality, context awareness and navigation. With the increasing popularity of wireless devices, MEMS sensors are becoming an important industry all their own. In fact, a report by Juniper Research predicts that by 2018, these sensors will generate almost $8 billion.

Beyond smartphones and tablets, the growing demand for wearable technology, especially for health and fitness, is leading to a boom for MEMS sensors. These miniature machines will play a large role in shaping the wearable technology industry. Devices like the Fitbit Flex and UP by Jawbone rely on this technology to measure temperature, pressure, humidity, physical activity and other health metrics.

From smartphones to fitness trackers and beyond, MEMS sensors will continue to shape the future of mobile technology.