CES Takeaway: As Internet of Things Grows, Chipmakers Stand to Benefit

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There's a lot more to the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) these days than just well-known items such as smartwatches and thermostats, as this year's numerous CES IoT exhibits make clear.

Over the last few years, the consumer IoT market has evolved to a point where a long list of tech, consumer electronics and home appliance makers now offer extensive "smart home" product lines featuring things such as smart lights, thermostats, smoke detectors, cameras, doorbells and kitchen appliances. As a result, a lot of the innovation in the space is now coming from companies pursuing niche markets.

Quite a few of these niche product launches involve the personal health and wellness space. At CES, firms such as Alarm.com (ALRM - Get Report) and British service provider Hive were showing off solutions meant to help keep an eye on elderly relatives. Motorola and startup Owlet demoed offerings for monitoring the health of infants. Startup HiDow showed off muscle-stimulation products that aid injury recovery for a variety of body parts, while a company called Flint Rehab demoed products meant to help people recover from strokes.

Other consumer IoT products qualify as niche items not so much because they only target a fraction of consumers, but because only a fraction of consumers will deem it necessary to buy one, even though a large percentage could buy them in theory. Examples at CES included an electric toothbrush for Procter & Gamble's (PG - Get Report) Oral-B brand that analyzes a user's brushing patterns and makes recommendations in response, a skincare device from startup Lululab that scans a user's face and offers suggestions and a smart bicycle helmet from startup Livall that contains things such as voice navigation, walkie-talkie and fall-detection functions.

But while these solutions might not individually sell in huge volumes, their collective sales are bound to add up. Together with the growth that's still being seen for more well-known IoT devices, this creates a sizable opportunity for chipmakers servicing the consumer IoT space.

RF chipmakers such as Qorvo (QRVO - Get Report) and Skyworks (SWKS - Get Report) benefit, as do microcontroller (MCU) makers such as NXP Semiconductors (NXPI - Get Report) and Microchip Technology (MCHP - Get Report) . Meanwhile, Cypress Semiconductor (CY - Get Report) sells both MCUs and connectivity chips into the market, while STMicroelectronics (STM - Get Report) sells MCUs and motion sensors.