Five billion Bosch MEMS sensors

Manufacturing milestone in Reutlingen

  • MEMS sensors have been used in automobiles for 20 years, and in consumer electronics for 10 years
  • MEMS sensors are the sensory organs of modern technical systems
  • Small, robust, intelligent, and energy-efficient
  • Bosch is a pioneer and the global leader in the manufacture of MEMS technology

Small parts, big impact: they save lives, increase driving comfort, help conserve energy, and are an essential part of consumer electronics. “MEMS sensors are a key technology for the connected world,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “They deliver high performance, but are also small, robust, and extremely cost-effective to manufacture in large volumes.” Bosch recently produced the five-billionth MEMS sensor at its plant in Reutlingen, Germany. MEMS is an acronym for microelectromechanical system. Bosch developed the underlying semiconductor manufacturing process itself, and has been manufacturing the sensors in large-scale production since 1995. “For 20 years, we have been developing smart technology for a growing number of different areas with real-life applications,” Hoheisel says. The first versions were used in motor vehicles to detect pressure and acceleration. Now, 75 percent of all sensors are used in consumer electronics. “Every second smartphone uses Bosch sensors,” Hoheisel says. The company is the leading global manufacturer of MEMS sensors.

Bosch – The pioneer of MEMS technology
The start of large scale production at Bosch in 1995 laid the foundation for modern technology. The current portfolio comprises acceleration, yaw-rate, mass flow, pressure, and environmental sensors, in addition to microphones. While it took 13 years to manufacture the first billion MEMS sensors, the Bosch Automotive Electronics division now manufactures the same quantity in less than one year at its production facility in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. This is the result of skyrocketing demand. More than four million sensors are currently manufactured every day. These little helpers have an average thickness of between just one and four millimeters. If the five billion Bosch sensors were stacked on top of each other, the tower would be 12,000 kilometers tall; that is long enough to pass nearly all the way through the Earth, which has a diameter of 12,742 kilometers.

Game consoles, cars, and smartphones – all need MEMS sensors
There are a wide range of uses for MEMS sensors. The SMI700 sensor, for example, records a vehicle’s rotational movements, lateral acceleration, and lean angle. It is at the heart of the ESP anti-skid system, which keeps the car more safely on course during critical situations. Another sensor, the SMP480, ensures quieter engine operation and also optimizes the engine’s air-fuel mixture in changing environments. This reduces fuel consumption, and provides for cleaner exhaust fumes.

In 2005, Bosch established the wholly-owned subsidiary Bosch Sensortec GmbH, which offers a wide range of MEMS sensors and solutions for applications in the consumer electronics sector, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables. Inertial measurement units (IMU) such as the BMI160 in the remote controls of game consoles are responsible for gaming fun, for example. They transmit the movements of the player in real time with extreme precision. The acceleration sensors in smartphones ensure that the display changes orientation when the cellphone is turned. At the beginning of 2015, Bosch Sensortec unveiled another global first: the BME680. In one housing, this environmental sensor measures air pressure, moisture levels, ambient temperature, and, for the first time, air quality.

MEMS sensors make non-electronic objects smart
The next major technological revolution has already begun. In an increasingly connected world, things are learning how to communicate. MEMS sensors are an important technological component that is key to this process. Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH, established in 2013, develops and markets connected, sensor-based devices, and custom solutions for the internet of things. Programmed to be a smart technology and fitted with a microcontroller, miniature battery, and a tiny radio chip, MEMS sensors can process their readings and send them over the internet to a user’s smartphone, for example.

Tiny, intelligent, robust, and energy-efficient
It is essential for sensors to be as small as possible, especially for smartphones, tablets, and similar devices. The reason for this is that such devices are called on to perform ever more functions – but have to do this in ever less available space. In consumer electronics, MEMS sensors are less than one millimeter thick. Some of the components inside sensors are a mere four micrometers (µm) thick – that is 17 times thinner than a human hair. These tiny parts are nonetheless robust and very powerful. They also have to be extremely energy-efficient. An acceleration sensor for the alarm system in a motor vehicle, for instance, has to be ready for use at all times, yet draw as little power as possible from the car battery. And in consumer electronics, low energy consumption is just as important, since it helps a smartphone’s battery last as long as possible.

For more information online:
Bosch sensors for automotive applications
Bosch sensors for non-automotive applications
Sensors – how technology maps the world around it
MEMS: the stars of the sensor world
Greater safety with peripheral sensors

Bosch press releases:
Sensors for increased safety in vehicles: New generation of Bosch inertial sensors
Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions: Bosch sets up company for    internet of things and services
Internet-enabled MEMS sensors
New Inertial Measurement Unit BMI16: Bosch Sensortec launches first IMU    with the lowest consumption worldwide
Bosch Sensortec launches combo MEMS solution with integrated gas sensor

Bosch MEMS enabling the Internet of Things and Services
Gyroscope for ESP: how it works
Pressure sensor: how it works
Acceleration sensor: how it works
MEMS sensor manufacturing
Inertial Measurement Unit BMI160
Integrated Environmental Unit BME680
Bosch CES 2015: First environment sensor to measure four variables

Tags: sensors, Sensors, BMI16, Mems Sensors

Mobility Solutions is the largest Bosch Group business sector. In 2018, its sales came to 47.6 billion euros, or 61 percent of total group sales. This makes the Bosch Group one of the leading automotive suppliers. The Mobility Solutions business sector pursues a vision of mobility that is accident-free. emissions-free, and fascinating, and combines the group’s expertise in the domains of automation, electrification, and connectivity. For its customers, the outcome is integrated mobility solutions. The business sector’s main areas of activity are injection technology and powertrain peripherals for internal-combustion engines, diverse solutions for powertrain electrification, vehicle safety systems, driver-assistance and automated functions, technology for user-friendly infotainment as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, repair-shop concepts, and technology and services for the automotive aftermarket. Bosch is synonymous with important automotive innovations, such as electronic engine management, the ESP anti-skid system, and common-rail diesel technology.

Bosch Sensortec GmbH is a fully owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH that is dedicated to delivering a complete portfolio of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors and solutions that enable consumer electronics to be connected. Bosch Sensortec develops and markets a wide portfolio of MEMS sensors and solutions tailored for smartphones, tablets, wearable devices and IoT (Internet of Things) applications.

The product portfolio includes 3-axis acceleration, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensors, integrated 6- and 9-axis sensors, environmental sensors, and a comprehensive software portfolio. Since its foundation in 2005, Bosch Sensortec has emerged as the MEMS technology leader in the markets it addresses. Bosch has been both a pioneer and a global market leader in the MEMS sensor segment since 1995 and has, to date, sold more than 7 billion MEMS sensors. Bosch sensors can be found in three out of four smartphones worldwide.

For more information, go to,

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 410,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2018). The company generated sales of 78.5 billion euros in 2018. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT company, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, smart cities, connected mobility, and connected manufacturing. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 460 subsidiary and regional companies in over 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At nearly 130 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 68,700 associates in research and development.

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