Materials Innovations May Challenge Noncontact-Sensor Growth

The development of "active," noncontact sensors based on Hall effect, magnetoresistive, and variable-reluctance transformer technologies is penetrating the established market of "passive," contact sensors—and increasingly taking market share for automotive speed and position applications, says market research firm Strategy Analytics. "This is being driven by the need for improved reliability as well as increased functionality and accuracy," notes senior analyst Simon Schofield.

But innovation in materials—using strengthening compounds in the resistive track to reduce wear—will provide higher reliability and longer life, and offer low-cost alternatives to buyers. Alps Electric's new resistive contact materials, for instance, may offer a life of one billion operational cycles and thus could create new interest in passive sensors for highly embedded functions. (,