Fiber optic sensors can perform the functions of virtually any conventional sensor faster and with greater sensitivity. With educational efforts among manufacturers and emerging application areas, this industry has the potential for explosive growth.
In their report, "North American Pressure Sensor Markets," Frost & Sullivan reveals that the North American Pressure Sensor Markets generated revenues of $1.46 billion in 1999. Frost & Sullivan projects those figures to top the $2 billion mark by 2006, with fiber-optic sensors representing nearly $22 million.
"During the past few years, companies have begun to educate the public on the benefits of optical sensing," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Emilio Gonzalez. "With the drive towards automation in manufacturing all over the world, the many inherent advantages of fiber-optic sensors promises a major role for them in the future."
The general acceptance of fiber optic sensors has been slow; mainly because of performance, price and standardization concerns. The numerous advantages of these sensors, however, will continue to attract research funding. A better understanding of how fiber-optic sensors can be incorporated into different applications enables manufacturers to educate potential users.
Chemical sensing, transportation, building and structural monitoring and biomedical are areas identified as being prime targets for fiber-optic sensors. Since these sensors can work in virtually any environment, they can be especially valuable in areas that would destroy conventional sensors.
"Fiber-optic sensors can function under adverse conditions of temperature, pressure, toxic or corrosive environments," says Gonzalez. "Those conditions that can erode metals at a rapid rate have little impact on optical fibers."
Frost & Sullivan, headquartered in San Jose, Calif. is an international strategic market consulting and training firm which monitors the sensors industry for market trends, market measurements and strategies. For more information, visit www.sensors.frost.com.