Arrays could extend MEMS speaker applications, says USound

October 02, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
USound GmbH (Graz, Austria), the startup developing piezoelectric MEMS-membrane based audio components and microspeakers, has said that it is investigating the use of arrays to extend the application of MEMS to louder speakers and ultrasound applications.

Andrea Rusconi-Clerici, CTO of USound, told the European MEMS and Sensors Summit, organized by SEMI, that USound had found it necessary to change from being a MEMS vendor into a more wide ranging audio company. It had had to create reference designs in the area of earphones, 3D audio and sound systems for augmented and virtual reality headsets to gain market traction. "We achieved design wins in 2018 and expect volume production in 2019," he said. "The most dynamic market is China followed by the US. Europe is missing," he added.

Rusconi-Clerici listed the advantages of piezoelectric MEMS over the incumbent technology, the voice coil. MEMS are faster, more precise and weigh less with 50 percent of the power consumption of the voice coil (see Are MEMS speakers ready to kick out the voice coil?). The speed and precision make suited to active noise cancellation and there's no electromagnetic field or heat generation.

However, while the advantages are clear many potential customers prefer to stick with known solutions.

"We needed to start making systems as many consumer electronics companies expect to add value in marketing and management of the sales channel. "The consumer market is accustomed to this. They do the branding and commercialization."

Next: Push more air, go ultrasound


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