"As a startup we tend to be more prepared to jump on stuff as it moves from research to development," Crowley added.
Piezoelectric microphones already lead in sensitivity so isn't 'good enough' exactly that?
"In the smartphone market most microphones already meet the broad range of requirements. But there are applications where increased sensitivity would good. Microphones for automatic noise reduction (ANR) headsets is one. And higher sensitivity allows us to trade off sensitivity against die size. Also, once you start making better microphones people come up with applications that can exploit them."
Crowley gave the example of high dynamic range microphones that can be placed very close to noise sources in industrial machinery and so on. Piezo is useful in such applications because it is also robust against dust.
Another useful attribute of piezoelectric MEMS is that it is a relatively simple add to conventional processes and so allows the integration of multiple types of sensor on the same substrate, Crowley said. He gave the example of including audio and ultrasound detection – or ultrasonic proximity detection with a temperature sensor.
"Ultrasonics is something we could do but again developing a MEMS product is a big project."
The mention of bringing multiple sensors onto a single substrate raises the topic of arrays as a means to raise performance or alter functionality of MEMS sensors.
Next: Arrays are happening