Have you ever wondered how your Apple (
) iPad knows which way is up and which is down? Or how your
digital camera's image stabilization feature works?
The technology behind all of these features is motion
sensing. In fact, it's the technology behind many of the
fastest growing consumer tech categories.
The smartphone and tablet features are just a small sample.
Without motion sensors
wouldn't be able to replace the clunky dashboard GPS.
Remote-controlled planes and aerial drones would never leave the
, like fitness bands, wouldn't exist.
As manufacturing costs come down and functionality goes up,
we're going to see much more advanced sensing applications emerge
in everyday consumer devices. And the features that seemed
cutting-edge a year ago will show up in toys that we buy for our
kids and grandchildren.
And of course we'll see emerging technologies - things like
self-driving cars and voice-controlled devices, introduced in
The technology is amazing when you think about what's required
to make all of these products as smart as they are. Tiny motion
sensors in many consumer devices host a compass, an accelerometer
and a gyroscope - without all three they wouldn't work. Together,
these components tell the device how fast it's moving and how
Analog Devices (
) is one of the largest semiconductor companies in the
motion-sensing space, with a market cap of $15.87 billion. STM
) is a slightly smaller manufacturer; its market cap is $7.6
And for investors interested in smaller companies, there are a
handful of earlier-stage companies that specialize in certain
types of sensors for specific applications.
Motion sensors have been a staple in consumer goods for years,
but new advances are making them even smaller and more
energy-efficient. That's allowing manufacturers to make sensors
that are "always on." And this capability is behind the wearable
devices that are able to track activity around the clock.
I expect we'll see a much wider application of motion sensor
technology in home applications over the coming years as well.
Recent acquisitions, like Google's (
purchase of smart thermostat manufacturer Nest
, show that large companies see growth in home appliances. The
"connected home" will require sensors in every appliance in order
While motion sensors have been around for a while, I think
investors would be wise to take a look at AMD, STM and some of
the smaller companies to see what they have cooking. I see almost
limitless consumer and industrial applications, and the companies
that continue to push sensor technology forward are likely to be
extremely lucrative investments.
The One Stock to Own in 2014 - The Year Mobile Takes
On Dec. 31, something incredible happened. For the first time
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