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Smart Sensing - Technological Competence Leveraging of Miniature Chemical Sensors

Sommersemester 2014

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Project goal

ams AG is a successful multinational semiconductor manufacturer currently developing an innovative gas sensor. The main goal of the project was to find as many new application fields for the gas sensor as possible, evaluating and analysing them and developing commercialisation strategies for the most promising ones.

Method

In order to find new application fields for the technology, the scientific method “Technological Competence Leveraging”, developed by the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, was applied. In a first step, the technological features were translated into use benefits, in order to overcome the complexity inherent in the project and to be able to talk freely about the technology without revealing critical information.

To identify current and potential users in new application fields, both, broadcasting and pyramiding interview methods were applied. Users were asked if they face certain problems that could be solved by the benefits of the ams technology.

After having identified new application possibilities for ams’ gas sensing technology, these were analysed and evaluated. Following a consultation with the project partner, the four most attractive application fields were selected. The last step was to develop a commercialisation strategy for these fields.

Results

The abstracted core benefits artificial nose, smallness, mobility and low cost were used to communicate to potential customers which problems the sensor would be able to solve. During the extensive search process a total of 47 different potential application fields in 16 industries were discovered. Of all the fields identified, the following four were determined to have the best strategic fit for ams as well as making best use of all the relevant benefits mentioned above:

1) Bad breath checker: Many people suffer from bad breath and are not even aware of it. Current solutions are unhandy and impractical. ams’ gas sensor installed in a smartphone could be used to analyse volatile sulphur compounds given off by bacteria – which cause bad breath.

2) Smog/ air pollution detection: Air pollution is drastically increasing in numerous cities worldwide. In some developing countries official measurements are seen to be corrupted and unreliable. By integrating the technology into smart phones customers could measure the current smog level with the help of a customer-friendly app installed on mobile phones. The measurement could give an indication of when to wear protection masks or to avoid outdoor activities.

3) Smart work wear: Workers in production industries are constantly exposed to harmful gases and other micro-particles.  A small clip on device for work wear could be used in various industries to warn workers when gas concentrations are too high.

4) Smart home technology: The sensor can be used as an “all round” solution in combination with current smart home technology to regulate air quality, detect toxic gases or prevent fires.

Identified market potential and recommendation

The attractiveness and potential of the respective markets were assessed through analysis tools such as the PESTEL model and Porter’s Five Forces and the outcomes based on off- and online research, as well as interviews and profound assumptions. While all four identified application fields show a high strategic fit with ams’ objectives, especially the smart home and smog pollution segments implicit a significant attractiveness for the company. This is due to high market volumes and exponential market growth in both fields. Furthermore, ams is already running partnerships with major mobile phone manufacturers, making it the ideal fit when entering the smog pollution market. There are considerable challenges to meet in the smart workwear and bad breath checker markets. While it would be challenging to find strategic partnerships and to face a lower market volume in the smart workwear segment, there would be enormous sunk costs if entering the bad breath checker market fails. For the reasons given above, it is recommended to enter the smog detector and smart home markets.

Cooperation Partner

  • ams AG Tobelbader Strasse 30
    8141 Unterpremstaetten
    Austria

Student team

  • Hannes Aichmayer
    Tanja Hammer
    Nadja Kopp
    Siegfried Kapeller
    Fabian Maier
    Moritz Moser
    Stefan Röll
    Aviella Schächter
    Olivia Scheibelreiter
    Valentin Schenkenfelder
    Sebastian Steinmayr
    Lukas Targa