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Home > MEMS / sensing technology > After the ams layout, the smartphone era, what is the next decade?

After the ams layout, the smartphone era, what is the next decade?

Published time: 2019-07-17

With advanced sensor solutions, the Austrian chip maker ams has performed well in the smartphone era. In particular, the popularity of 3D face recognition in recent years has made the development of ams with 3D sensing solutions for the entire industry chain develop rapidly.

Mr. Pierre Laboisse, executive vice president of global sales and marketing at ams Semiconductor, told reporters in an interview with the semiconductor industry. Three years ago, ams was only a company with only 25,000 to 3,000 employees. However, after seven years of acquisitions, the number of ams employees has reached 9,000, and the company's business has grown by about four times compared with three years ago. Last year, the company received a revenue of 1.426 billion euros (about 1.6 billion US dollars).

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But as many people have said, although they continue to contribute a lot of revenue to suppliers, there is no doubt that smartphones have lost their past high-growth magic. In other words, for any supplier, if you want to take it to the next level, it is imperative to find a new market. As a chip company with more than 35 years of experience, ams is well prepared for its future.

Three important product lines

According to Pierre Laboisse, ams now has three main product lines: optical sensors, image sensors and audio sensors. These products will be an important weapon for them to fight for the future. According to the semiconductor industry observation, the acquisition is an important way for ams to build these product lines. Here are a few of their typical acquisitions:

In November 2015, ams spent 220 million euros to acquire CMOSIS (New Vision), based in Antwerp, Belgium. Their high-performance CMOS image sensor enabled Ams to enter machine vision, medical, broadcasting, transportation and scientific and photographic imaging. Admission tickets for the high-end market;

In December 2016, Ams bought Incus Labs, a privately held company that provides digital active noise reduction technology for headsets and in-ear headphones. According to ams, the company's IP allows them to remain competitive in the noise canceling headset market. From the popularity of tws headphones in the past two years, and the market reaction of their semi-in-ear digital noise reduction scheme launched by mwc Shanghai, it seems that this single transaction has achieved very positive results.

As for the high-performance optical package and micro-optics manufacturer Heptagon, the leading supplier of Vertical Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs), Princeton Optronics, which was acquired in 2017, is the author of these two companies and companies. Together with the original products, they helped them create a highly advantageous 3D sensing solution. These programs have also been highly recognized by many mobile phone manufacturers. “Most of the Android vendors on the market are using our 3D sensing solutions,” emphasizes Pierre Laboisse.

These are just a few of the many acquisitions of ams. But as Pierre Laboisse said, ams' acquisition is not for performance, but for technology trends. Based on this principle, ams does not rule out the acquisition.

In the field of optical sensors, there are also a series of light sensors such as ambient light sensors, proximity sensors, line sensors, spectral sensors and color sensors.

Second, image sensors are also an important part of the ams product. According to Pierre Laboisse, ams has high-performance image sensors and medical sensors, as well as miniature cameras and miniature cameras.

Another pillar of ams is audio sensing. It includes products such as microphones and active noise reduction.

In addition, ams also has a series of sensors such as environment and medical care. The company even has a series of products such as power management chip and asic. This is the company's "ammunition" for the future market.

Expansion of the three main battlefields

Under the support of these products, ams has set its sights on a wide range of applications. Communication, consumer electronics and computers are their three main battlefields. The consumer electronics market represented by smart phones is the focus of the ams business. The weight. According to their 2018 financial report, 71% of ams' revenue last year came from the consumer electronics business. This also prompted the company to continue to develop in this area.

Pierre Laboisse told semiconductor reporters that first of all, in terms of light source, they will continue to develop floodlights, fill lights and dot-matrix emitters; for the now popular full-screen product form, they also have a light-sensing scheme under the screen. Allows customers to implement a design solution for the under-screen light in front of the phone without opening the hole; they also provide image sensors and audio sensors for the AR/VR market that is on the verge of extinction.

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As for the audio sensor, the active noise reduction products discussed earlier do not have to be said. Depending on the experience accumulated in the past, ams provides a noise reduction solution that can be selected for the scene. Ams can even provide audio enhancements to help consumers choose to listen or not listen to certain sounds.

Others such as advanced color and spectral sensors help open up more applications, not to mention.

Planning to expand its existing solutions to more markets. 

For example, applying its 3D sensing solutions to smart homes and smart door locks is an attempt. They are also looking at them. To the three emerging fields of automotive, medical and industrial.

First of all, looking at the car, according to Pierre Laboisse, ams is now exploring the application of 3D sensing solutions to car driver identification, gesture recognition, motion recognition and face recognition to help the automotive electronics industry design better and safer; They also promoted the superior performance of automotive-grade VCSEL arrays and drivers to the solid-state laser radar field, helping the automotive industry to develop, and the above products have also been recognized by customers.

In the medical field

according to Pierre Laboisse, ams optics can support heart rate and blood pressure product solutions; high-precision, small-volume miniature cameras, in addition to their power in markets such as ar/vr, ams are also optimistic about them. The expansion of medical disposable endoscopes. “We can even build a swallowable miniature camera to help check the intestines,” adds Pierre Laboisse.

In terms of industry

 the services that ams can provide are more diversified. The application of 3D sensing does not need to be said. This can be easily cut in industrial automation, as well as in these automated industries of home buildings; industrial testing, liquid testing, Detecting the turbidity and contamination of the liquid is also supported by the ams sensor solution; in the robotic industry automation and machine vision, the image sensor of ams also provides excellent and precise high performance.

Work together with partners to win the future

From the recent layout of ams, tapping the potential of products from the inside is an important means for them to move into the future, and working with partners has become an important supplement to them.

On the one hand, they collaborate with one of the domestic “AI Four Little Dragons” to develop and promote a complete plug-and-play 3D face recognition solution for any type of smart consumer or commercial device. According to the official press release, the integrated solution being developed by the two companies combines the classic vertical cavity surface area laser (VCSEL) transmitter module from Ames Semiconductor and the depth mapping and face recognition software of Vision Technology. They will create the first 3D active stereo solution that meets high security standards, providing reliable performance in both indoor and outdoor lighting environments.

These solutions are completely independent of the user's mobile phone and are suitable for smart homes, smart retail, smart buildings and smart security applications, as emphasized by ams.

Establishing a joint venture with Zhilu Technology is another option for ams to develop its domestic market.

According to Pierre Laboisse, the reason why ams chose to cooperate with Zhilu is to be optimistic about the influence of the latter in China. Ams will transfer environmental sensor solutions including air quality, relative humidity and temperature sensing, ultrasonic-based flow sensor solutions, pressure sensor related employees, intellectual property, sensor products and solutions, and related customer segments to the joint venture. In other words, the expansion of these products that can be applied to the automotive, intelligent building and air quality testing infrastructure will be handled by the joint ventures of both parties.

A new ams is slowly setting sail, are you ready to be changed by him?

 

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