MEMS everywhere, finally its in speakers too

Date: 14/03/2017
Using of MEMS microphone in mobile phones and such audio communication/recording devices is more common now due to the advantages of MEMS microphone offers over other types of microphones. It is now the time for speakers to use mems technology for converting electrical signal into audio. The MEMS expert STMicroelectronics is working with the MEMS audio specialist company USound GmbH in making MEMS speakers. Fast-growing headphone market can be a best target for these components, where 340 million headphones are expected to be shipped in 2016 according to some market research companies.

STMicroelectronics and USound GmbH are working together to industrialise and produce world’s first miniature piezoelectric MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) actuators for smart audio systems in portable devices. The patented micro-speaker technology from USound replaces commonly used balanced-armature and electrodynamic receivers for handsets with a small piezo-MEMS actuator.

Manufactured using ST’s industry-leading thin-film piezo-electric (TFP) technology, these actuators will improve scalability and cost while assuring lower power consumption and heat dissipation in hearables and smartphones devices, without compromising audio quality, according to ST.

“USound’s technology and the transition to piezo-MEMS actuators will bring semiconductor reliability, manufacturing efficiencies and - most importantly to the consumer - sound improvements to portable devices,” said Anton Hofmeister, Vice President and GM of MEMS Microactuators Division, STMicroelectronics. “The announcement is a further step by ST, the worldwide leader in consumer and mobile sensors, to expand our MEMS portfolio by leveraging our valuable actuation technology to address large market opportunities with high barriers to entry.”

“With its outstanding semiconductor and MEMS expertise, ST is the ideal partner to bring this never-seen-before technology to the market,” said Ferruccio Bottoni, CEO of USound. “Compared to standard speakers, our piezo-MEMS devices offer unprecedented mechanical precision, improving audio reproduction fidelity and device reliability in very thin form factors. 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.”

USound/ST technology was displayed at the recently concluded mobile technology specific event Mobile World Congress in Barcelona held during Feb 27-Mar 2.

Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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