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The Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor market is forecast to grow from a value of $2.8 billion this year to $6.9 billion by 2025, according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets.com. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 percent.

Time-of-Flight sensors calculate the distance between sensor and object, usually by measuring the time it takes for a beam of light emitted by the device to bounce back from the object. Typically, the light source is an integral laser or LED.

ToF technologies are commonplace in augmented reality (AR) applications – such as head-up displays – LiDAR devices, computer vision systems, 3D imaging and scanning, robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles.

The predicted growth of the market will be driven by increasing demand for ToF sensors from the automotive sector, together with the growing popularity of 3D cameras in smartphones, says the report.

Adoption of 3D vision systems in industries such as aerospace and defence, consumer electronics, and healthcare, together with their deployment in Industry 4.0 applications, are also expected to provide major opportunities for growth.

Among these, consumer electronics will see the highest CAGR for ToF sensors during the forecast period. Applications include wearables, tablet PCs, and cameras, as well as smartphones.

ToF technologies also have significant potential in virtual reality (VR) headsets and related devices, where accurate location and motion detection can help create a more realistic and immersive experience.

In terms of regional uptake, APAC is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period, owing to the rapid industrialisation and high adoption of consumer electronics in countries such as China, India, and the Philippines.

  • Key ToF sensor providers include: Texas Instruments (US); STMicroelectronics NV (Switzerland); Infineon Technologies AG (Germany); Panasonic (Japan); Teledyne Technologies (US); Keyence Corporation (Japan); pmd Technologies AG (Germany); Sharp (Japan); Sony (Japan); and Melexis NV (Belgium).

So-called extreme environments – environments that are hazardous to human beings – typify high-risk industries such as offshore energy, subsea engineering, deep mining, space exploration, and nuclear power/decommissioning. As such, they present a significant economic opportunity for robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and other connected technologies, such as sensors.