China's fiber optic sensor industry has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, with the market size hitting approximately $155 million in 2013 and expected to triple in size by 2018, reaching $485 million, according to an industry report by ResearchInChina.
The sector's expected expansion will be driven by two main factors: the support of national policy by the central government, and increased demand due to the rise of the Internet of Things. Right now, researchers say, breakthrough fiber technologies are already being applied in the country's petroleum, steel, transportation and national defense sectors.
The promising market prospect for optical fiber sensor technology in China has drawn in both domestic and foreign companies. Last fall, American company Corning set up the first research and development center committed exclusively to developing optical fiber sensor products in Shanghai. Other companies who recently started their layout in China include Panasonic and OMRON.
The report also notes major developments by domestic companies like Wuhan WUTOS Co which, after undertaking a government project, reached a production capacity of 210,000 units of optical fiber sensors. Another company, the recently established Beiyang Optic-electronic Information Technology Co, is preparing for the construction of the Marine Optical Fiber Sensor Project that will produce an annual capacity of 1,000 sets of all-fiber ocean boundary detection equipment.
Meanwhile, the USA's early entry to the market has helped the country remain global leader in terms of development and application of optical fiber sensing technology, the report says. Last year, global optical fiber sensor sales grew 19.6% since 2012, reaching $1.89 billion. US companies accounted for $1.22 billion, or 64.6% of that. The global market is forecast to be worth $4.33 billion by 2018.