USound has a patented micro-speaker and plans to replace the conventional balanced-armature drivers electrodynamic transducers for handsets with a piezoMEMS actuator with the expectation this will improve cost and reduce power consumption along with improved audio quality. USound in R&D has been working with niobium-doped lead zirconate titanate (Nb-doped PZT) and Fraunhofer ISIT and XFab as partners.
USound intends to use packaging technology to integrate ASICs, MEMS and passive components in one device with a thin and compact form factor.
The move to work with ST as MEMS supplier is not surprising as senior executives at ST dropped hints that they wished to use ST's piezoelectric MEMS process to enable a revolution in micro-actuation and in microspeakers and earphones at a conference in 2016 (see Are MEMS speakers ready to kick out the voice coil? ). In addition, two of the founding team at USound are former ST employees having worked there prior to joining SensorDynamics, which was acquired by Maxim Integrated Products Inc. in 2011.
"Compared to standard speakers, our piezoMEMS devices offer unprecedented mechanical precision, improving audio reproduction fidelity and device reliability in very thin form factors," said Ferruccio Bottoni, CEO of USound, in a statement issued by ST. "As the first-of-its-kind device, our MEMS 'Moon' speaker targets earphone applications, bringing superior performance to the audio world at a competitive price."
The piezoelectric MEMS actuator will move into volume production in 3Q17 and shipping in consumer products before the end of the year, ST said.
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