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STMicroelectronics, USound Unveils First Advanced MEMS Silicon Micro-Speakers

ST’s MEMS expertise and thin-film piezoelectric technology (PεTra) Revolutionizes Sound Industry of future as USound rollsout the first ultra- thin and small MEMS Silicon Micro-Speakers

STMicroelectronics speakers

From last year technology partnership, STMicroelectronics and USound have finally delivered the first silicon micro-speakers.

These extremely small speakers are known to be the thinnest in the world while flaunting half the weight of conventional speakers. Its application is extensive as the combined technology of STMicroelectronics and USound can be used for wearable tech such as earphones, over-the-ear headphones, or Augmented-Reality/Virtual-Reality (AR/VR) headgear.

The first silicon micro-speakers delivers extremely low power, light weighted and a comfortable size allowing smaller batteries evading negligible heat.

Developed with ST’s MEMS technology, the speakers are leveraging technology that has already revolutionized the capabilities of smartphones and wearables.

With MEMS advancements now coming to speakers, ST believes designers can further miniaturize the audio subsystem, reduce power consumption, and create innovative features like 3D sound.

MEMS-industry analyst Yole Développement values the overall micro-speakers market at $8.7 billion currently, and expects MEMS manufacturers to capture share with silicon-based devices.  MEMS (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) devices, High-performing MEMS motion sensors, pressure sensors, and microphones built on silicon chips are the critical enablers for context sensing, navigation, tracking, and other features that mobile users now rely on every day.

Citing on the development, Anton Hofmeister, Vice President and GM of MEMS Microactuators Division, STMicroelectronics, said, “This successful project combines USound’s design flair and ST’s extensive investment in MEMS expertise and processes, including our advanced thin-film piezo technology PεTra (Piezo-electric Transducer). Together, we are winning the race to commercialize MEMS micro-speakers by delivering a more highly miniaturized, efficient, and better-performing solution leveraging the advantages of piezo-actuation.”

“ST has provided the production expertise and manufacturing muscle to realize our original concept as a pace-setting, advanced product ready for consumer-market opportunities,” said Ferruccio Bottoni, CEO of USound. “These tiny speakers are now poised to change the design of audio and hearable products, and open up new opportunities to develop creative audio functionalities.”

In addition to applications in mobiles, audio accessories, and wearables, the new piezo-actuated silicon speakers support innovation in a wide variety of hearable electronics, including home digital assistants, media players, and IoT (Internet-of-Things) devices.

USound demonstrated the prototype AR/VR glasses containing multiple MEMS speakers per side, to invited guests at ST’s private suite during CES 2018. Engineering samples are now with lead customers.

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