What is driving ultrasonic sensors market growth?

Jon Lawson

A steady increase in automotive, electronics and healthcare applications as well as emerging solutions in industrial sectors are driving ultrasonic sensors industry trends. These components deliver high reliability, versatile functionality, and cost-effectiveness. Also known as level sensors, the devices are mainly used for measuring level, distance and for obstacle detection. 

As offices, educational institutions and factories gradually resume operation amid the Covid-19 crisis, it is imperative to create a safe environment to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Multiple solutions based on ultrasonic sensors are attracting attention as a means to ensure contact tracing and social distancing between staff, workers and students. 

For instance, in October last year, Michigan’s Grand Valley State University adopted the NOVID contact tracing application, which used a smartphone’s Bluetooth and ultrasonic sensors to help monitor and slow the spread of Covid-19 on campus. 

Powered by ongoing technological developments and emerging use-cases across industries, the ultrasonic sensors industry size could reach over US$5 billion in annual value by 2027. Let’s take a look at how the application of level sensors is evolving across some of the major business verticals. 

Expanding scope in the transportation sector

In the auto industry, ultrasonic sensor technology is playing an important role in shaping the future of next-generation self-driving systems. Today, the sensors are used for applications such as parking assistance, object detection, collision avoidance, automatic braking, and other safety systems. 

For instance, some BMWs are equipped with an ultrasonic sensor network which helps estimate parking availability and identify open parking spots. Ultrasonic sensors are also witnessing growing use in other areas such as freight rail. TMV Control Systems for example utilises the Senix Ultrasonic CHEM 10 Level Sensor to monitor fuel tank levels in diesel-electric locomotive engines. 

Constant innovations in smartphone displays 

Rising consumer expectation and innovation are among the key drivers for the consumer electronics sector. One of the most significant innovations in the industry in recent years has been the replacement of conventional proximity and fingerprint sensors with multipurpose ultrasonic sensors. 

Back in February 2019, Samsung became one of the first smartphone makers to deploy an in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor in its Galaxy Fold and Galaxy S10 series. In January 2021, Qualcomm announced that its 3D Sonic Sensor Generation 2 in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor could be featured in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 series. 

Consistent development in smartphones and consumer attraction towards latest technologies will stimulate the integration of sensitive components like ultrasonic sensors to deliver unprecedented features.

Protecting frontline workers through proper social distancing is among the most effective methods to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Replacing human staff with robots could help promote social distancing, reduce human effort, and help curb the spread of the virus. The time-of-flight (ToF) principle involves the use of ultrasonic sensors for proximity detection for an accuracy of up to a few millimetres, giving a much better outcome than Bluetooth or other wireless technology.

Ultrasonic sensing is among the best ways to measure levels and sense proximity. Even though the concept has been around for some time, it is still an emerging technology with plenty of growth potential. Constant innovations by established manufacturers such as Rockwell Automation, TE Connectivity, Banner Engineering, TDK Corporation, and Murata Manufacturing, among others, will transform ultrasonic sensors industry trends over the next few years.  

Written by Hrishikesh Kadam on behalf of Global Market Insights.