Capacitive touch controller integrated circuits (IC) serve to determine the performance of touch panels on devices like tablets and smartphones. As the number and types of these devices increase rapidly, the need for such controllers goes up as well. Given that wearable technology is starting to become more popular as well, this industry is set to grow at an alarming pace. A new report from IHS Technology pegs this economic explosion as having a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent through 2017, especially as touch functions appear on a larger variety of products and devices.
A touch controller IC is a non-memory based semiconductor that transforms the analog signals generated from touching and not touching a screen in a particular region into digital signals, which are far more agile.
“The touch controller IC price is expected to drop as competition gets fierce in the market, but the capacitive touch controller IC market is likely to maintain its positive growth trend for now,” says IHS Technology's senior analyst Seung-kyo Richard Son.
Over the last decade, the touch controller industry has added several new structures, materials and processes to the devices, and this growth is expected to continue. “Touch solutions that can stimulate consumer’s emotions should emerge steadily in order for the market to grow,” continues Seung-kyo.
US companies like Atmel, Synaptics, Cypress and Broadcom were at the top of the food chain for the capacitive touch controller IC market until around 2011. At this time, Asian companies like Melfas, Mstar and FocalTech were quicker to adapt to the then-emerging technologies of tablets and smartphones. The growth of these Asiatic companies is largely attributed to falling prices for touch controller ICs, which allowed for greater production numbers as well as more competitive prices. However, a further drop in prices can turn this positive manufacturer impact into a negative, as it will eventually lead to lower profits.
Edited by Adam Brandt