With touch panels becoming ubiquitous, the touch industry is also undergoing rapid change. Touch Display Research Inc. constantly surveys all of the leading manufacturers in the touch screen industry, ITO replacement material industry and touchless control suppliers, we analyze the market situation, identify the hot touch trends and provide accurate market forecasts.
Author: Jennifer Colegrove, Ph.D. CEO and Principal Analyst, Touch Display Research Inc.
The Touch panel market has been growing explosively since 2006. As the first industry analyst to write a comprehensive touch screen industry report in 2006, I feel very fortunate to have witnessed our touch screen engineers, technicians, and managers grow our industry through hard work and constant innovation. In spite of a global economic recession over the last couple of years the market has continued to grow at handsome rate.
Figure 1. Touch Module Market Forecast. Source: Touch Display Research Inc, 2016.
Touch screen suppliers, especially those projected capacitive touch suppliers have been mostly profitable during 2007 and 2009. But fast forward to 2016, the competition is fierce, many touch screen suppliers have encountered net losses or even went bankrupt. New business strategies are needed to become a leader or maintain a leadership position in today’s touch industry.
ITO-replacement: Non-ITO transparent conductors
ITO is still the mainstream transparent conductor used on touch panels, however, due to the high cost, fragility, long process steps, ITO-replacements have become one of the hot trends. There are over 10 types of ITO replacement technologies; we have placed them into 6 categories: metal mesh, silver nanowire, carbon nanotube, conductive polymer, graphene and other transparent conductor technologies. In addition there are over 200 companies or research institutes that are currently working on ITO-replacements2.
Each technology has its Pros and Cons. There are many characteristics to compare when choosing a transparent conductive material, sheet resistance, transmissivity, conductivity, haze, optical appearance and cost by way of example. Here we compare cost and conductivity. See figure 2.
ITO-replacement, such as metal mesh, silver nanowire could provide touch sensor at lower cost, thinner, lighter weight, higher conductivity and larger size.
Figure 2: Comparison of ITO replacements, cost vs conductivity. Source: Touch Display Research, ITO-replacement: non ITO transparent conductor technologies, supply chain and market forecast report, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Touch Display Research forecasts that non-ITO transparent conductor market revenue will reach $13 billion by 2023. However, not all companies are growing and you need to be very selective.
Touchless Human-Machine-Interaction (HMI) sensor market
Gesture-control, voice-recognition, eye-tracking and many other touchless sensors provide the benefit of convenience, safety, hygiene, authentication, fun and coolness. Touch Display Research forecasts that the touchless HMI market will grow rapidly in the next several years. There are many opportunities for OEMs, ODMs, semiconductor companies, and software companies.
Over 220 touchless sensor suppliers, system integrators, and brand companies working on touchless HMI sensors. Camera-based gesture technology attracted 58 companies working on it; 49 companies are active on motion sensor fusion; 30 companies are active on voice recognition. See figure 3.
Figure 3. Touchless HMI Sensor Technologies and Companies. Source: Touch Display Research, Touchless HMI Sensor Market 2015 Report, October 2015.
Touch Display Research forecasts the touchless HMI sensor market will reach $20 billion by 2016 and $44 billion by 2021. See figure 4.
Figure 4. Touchless HMI Sensor Market forecast to 2021. Source: Touch Display Research, Touchless HMI Sensor Market Report, October 2015.
Summary and business strategy recommendations
The touch screen module market is forecasted to grow to $36 billion by 2020, from just $2 billion in 2006, which will throw up many new opportunities in the fast changing touch industry:
We recommend metal mesh for simple design with large volume, or pursue large format touch panels; silver nanowire for display, lighting and EMI; and conductive polymer for EMI, anti–static applications; Carbon NanoTube for mobile/wearable devices with the benefits of flexibility, low reflections and low haze.
Touchless HMI, such as gesture-control, voice-recognition, eye-tracking and many other touchless sensors provide the benefit of convenience, safety, hygiene, authentication, fun and coolness. We recommend touchless HMI sensors to automotive industry, baby care/health care industry, and augmented reality and virtual reality applications.
Dr. Jennifer K. Colegrove is the CEO and principal analyst of Touch Display Research Inc. www.TouchDisplayResearch.com. She writes reports and performs consulting projects focusing on touch and display technologies, including touch screens, ITO-replacement, active pen, near-eye displays, flexible displays, OLED displays and lighting, 3D displays, e-paper displays, pocket projectors, gesture control, voice control, and eye control. Dr. Colegrove is called “Doctor Touch” by her colleagues, since she is well known as the first analyst to write a comprehensive touch screen industry report since 2006. It has been 9 years in a row. She is also the first analyst to write a comprehensive quantum dot display industry report since 2013.
1. Touch Display Research Inc. Monthly report: “Touch and Emerging Display” report, 2014, 2015 and 2016
2. “ITO replacement: non ITO transparent conductor technologies, supply chain and market forecast” report, Touch Display Research Inc. 2013-2016.
3. “Touchless Human-Machine Interaction Sensor Market”, Touch Display Research Inc. 2013-2016