Image sensors for machine vision are showing a strong annual growth rate of 12.3% to 2022

In 2014, 1.6 million image sensor units were sold at an overall value of $172 million to machine vision applications. After recovery from a slight slowdown anticipated around 2018, close to 4.1 million units will be shipped in 2022 worth $294 million.

Smithers Apex’s new report – The Future of Image Sensors for Machine Vision to 2022 – finds that the volume of image sensors used in machine vision applications shows a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3%, while the CAGR of the value is at 6.9%. The difference derives from decreasing average unit prices. At the end of the forecast period, the price drop results in a small decrease of the market size that cannot be compensated by the growth rates in volume.

Industry experts agree that the market growth of image sensors is driven by performance, technologies and applications rather than by price, since the image sensor itself is often not the cost driver of machine vision systems. The digitisation of the image signal and pre-processing on the sensor influence the complexity and costs of the camera. Yet the positive or negative evaluation of the business case of an image processing system is not dependent on the price of the image sensor in most cases.

Ronald Müller report author

The trend of image sensor prices is driven by the shift away from CCD sensors to CMOS imagers. In 2014 and shortly after, both technologies coexisted on the market for machine vision. CMOS showed a focus on low-cost rolling shutter devices; CCD a focus on higher priced low-end variants, aside costly high-end versions. The trend clearly goes to CMOS global shutter sensors, which are now partly higher priced than comparable CCDs. Yet in the future, they will most certainly eradicate low-end CCDs from the market, due to their better performance and the potential for even lower pricing. At the same time, more cost-effective high-end CMOS will drive high-end CCDs into niches, where they can outperform CMOS sensors still.

The analysis of relevant countries shows interesting dynamics of the US raising the amount of machine vision image sensors quite rapidly in year 2019. Similar dynamics is for Canada, albeit not as rapidly as in the US. It is correlated with the growth of the US’s industry, while the Eurozone is struggling with imminent state insolvencies and the growing need for connected embedded vision solutions, a strong domain of US players. Machine vision camera OEMs and sensor integrators will be putting pressure on their domestic as well as the global market, leading to a massive growth in their usage of sensors.

Overall, The Future of Image Sensors for Machine Vision to 2022 report provides a detailed capture of the status-quo and a solid data-driven forecast of the market volumes, with over 12% CAGR and values with close to 7% CAGR. The victory march of CMOS global shutter sensors has already begun. Multiple factors will influence how manufacturing automation will develop as such, and which innovations will leverage machine vision in this area. As the field of manufacturing is considered to be well served, many machine vision OEMs strive to find fast growing applications beyond. They will likely be successful in sectors like medical and life sciences, entertainment, sports, as well as in airborne and ground-based UAVs.

Price pressure and declining production costs will challenge image sensor OEMs of machine vision cameras in the near future.


The Future of Image Sensors for Machine Vision to 2022 is available for £4,500.

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Smithers Apex provides events, market research, publications, strategic and technical consulting to niche, emerging and high growth industries. Markets covered include lighting and displays, clean energy, home and personal care, industrial biotechnology, performance materials and chemicals.