USound GmbH was formed in 2014 by Jörg Schönbacher, Andrea Rusconi Clerici and Ferruccio Bottoni and it has developed a technology platform intended to create MEMS microspeakers that can be exceptional in terms of acoustic quality at low power consumption. The intent is get this micro-speakers designed on to smartphone motherboards and in next-generation in-ear headphones.
Another application is the creation of MEMS microspeaker arrays that can perform acoustic beam-forming to create sound at particular points in space. The company is using piezoelectric materials on silicon to produce devices that can combine a linear response with high energy density, according to its website.
The company is working with a variety of materials including niobium-doped lead zirconate titanate (Nb-doped PZT) but also intends to use packaging technology to integrate ASICs, MEMS micro speakers and passive components in one device with thin and compact form factors.
In an interview with Yole Developpement the company said it would concentrate on mobile consumer audio initially and address additional markets such as medical, automotive, smart homes and industrial audio, as the company grows and the technology matures. The company was also reported saying it would evolve into a system developer offering technology from hardware to firmware.
USound's own qualification of pre-production units is expected in 4Q16 and first shipments of production units in 2Q17. USound is partnered with X-Fab Semiconductor Foundries AG (Erfurt, Germany), which provides MEMS foundry services.