Microscopic mechanical gizmos called microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microstructure technology (MST) devices are increasingly being used in the macroscopic world. If you’ve ridden in a car, used a computer or ink-jet printer, or flown in an airplane, the first generation of these tiny devices has served you well.

MEMS and MST devices are being rapidly adopted in an expanding list of products. Venture Development Corp. (VDC, Natick, MA) expects the market for these devices to grow from 3.4 billion units in 2002 to 10.4 billion units, worth $34 billion, in 2006.

The study predicts the following products will be the top 10 near-term market opportunities for MEMS and MST:

  • Microfluidic biochips for medical diagnostics and drug discovery.
  • Glucose microfluidic monitoring sensors.
  • Tire pressure sensors.
  • Hard disk drive heads.
  • Print heads for ink-jet printers.
  • Over-the-counter microfluidic devices for detecting medical conditions.
  • Large format print heads.
  • Devices that enable advanced automotive functions.
  • Accelerometers and gyroscopes for antilock brake systems.
  • Automobile mass airflow sensors.
Three points are noteworthy. First, six of the top 10 product opportunities are already among the largest dollar-generating markets today. Second, all categories will generate at least $250 million in 2006. Third, none are expected to grow less than 40 percent annually.