Startup uses MEMS ultrasound to improve audio speaker

Startup uses MEMS ultrasound to improve audio speaker

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By Peter Clarke

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SonicEdge Ltd. (Binyamina, Israel), founded in November 2018, is developing an ultrasound-based MEMS audio speaker.

This is claimed to provide enhanced audio in small form factors at both low and high frequencies and extended operation to 20KHz and beyond. Applications for the ultrasound system is therefore the ‘usual suspects’ of hearables – ear buds, augmented and virtual reality headsets and glasses, headphones and heading aids.

Other claimed advantages of SonicEdge speakers include smaller size, no vibrations, reduced size of back cavity. The company is aiming initially at the True Wireless System (TWS) headphone/earbud market, where the SonicEdge speakers cold enable smaller and better sounding earphones. 

The principle of using modulation of an ultrasound carrier to produce conventional audio is well known as a means of producing beamed and positionally-located audio. One method in this context is to use the heterodyne interference of two ultrasound beams to achieve conventional audio only at the place where the two ultrasound beams intersect.

The SonicEdge speakers use monolithically integrated MEMS speakers to generate a modulated ultrasound signal from an array of approximately 200 ultrasound generators in a die of about 3.5mm by 3.5mm. The ultrasound is transformed into audible sound by an acousto-mechanical frequency transformer – or metal grill. This creates a constant volume air velocity source regardless of frequency. This provides a higher sound pressure level than conventional MEMS speakers at low frequencies and a broader frequency range, the company claims.

SonicEdge uses an acoustic baffle to demodulate the ultrasound carrier producing audio frequencies. Source: SonicEdge.

The company’s initial product is the SE1000, a two-chip package that comprises a MEMS ultrasound transducer and demodulator that generates the sound and an ASIC that encodes the ultrasound and drives the MEMS chip.

Reportedly the company is contemplating scaling up the MEMS chips with two in the SE2000, and up to four or eight in the SE3000, SE4000 SE5000 to address applications such as headsets.

A two-chip solution for earbuds can be scaled with multiple MEMS for headphones and AR/VR helmets. Source: SonicEdge.

The company was co-founded by Azi Mizrachi, who serves as chief operating officer and the company’s CEO is Moti Margalit.

Since 2021 the company has been recruiting in Denmark and the company has an R&D operation in Struer, Denmark.

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