Demand growing for rugged keyboards, keypads

By Control Engineering Staff February 21, 2006

Natick, MA —North American market for rugged keyboards and keypads should reach $206 million by 2008, according to a recent Venture Development Corp.

Trends shaping the growth patterns for rugged keyboards and keypads include discarding the “wait-and-see” attitude caused by political uncertainty that many OEMs in the industrial controls and process automation markets once held. Many manufacturers are now investing a lot of resources in new projects, which will drive strong demand for these items through 2008, says the VDC study. It also shows that increased concerns for quality assurance, safety, security, and protection are encouraging more precise tests and measurements in virtually all vertical markets, fueling growth of rugged products in the instrumentation field. Developments in the medical equipment, military and aerospace, and commercial and retail areas are also having a positive impact on the market.

Total market for these products was $135.7 million in 2004, with military and aerospace applications accounting for a quarter of the amount. Industrial controls and process automation made up nearly 17% of the total. Data processing, computers, and peripherals also accounted for nearly 17%, with medical equipment coming in at 11% and commercial equipment at just under 10%. Instrumentation made up 1.4% of the market value.

Says Shan shan Chu, a VDC industry analyst, “Demand for ruggedly designed products will continue to increase as long as there are applications that require them. Five years ago, these applications were military and industrial. Today, they have expanded to include more applications. This trend will likely continue as these applications increasingly call for products that can survive and last longer under those environments.”

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—Control Engineering Daily News DeskJeanine Katzel, senior editor,