Audio Pixels, a fabless semiconductor company focused on the development and production of MEMS based digital speaker chips, and ICsense, a European ASIC design company, announced this week that they have entered into a comprehensive agreement directed to support the production needs of Audio Pixels' patented low cost MEMS based digital speakers.
Market research suggests that manufacturers and consumers are looking for innovation in audio speakers -- in particular, for good quality sound in a form factor that is more compliant with current device and lifestyle trends. While the industry at large has been able to digitize and shrink most of the other device components and electronics, one of the last remaining barriers is the speaker; it remains large, heavy, bulky and restrictive.
"The wealth of knowledge and experience demonstrated by ICsense throughout a rather intense qualification process, provided us with the unwavering confidence that we have selected an ideal partner for our ASIC design needs," said Yuval Cohen, Chief Technology Officer of Audio Pixels. "Additionally, ICsense's turnkey approach which includes test and manufacturing services, delivers an efficient and cost effective mass-production solution to seamlessly integrate the high-voltage ASIC driver with our MEMS structure."
"We are proud that Audio Pixels has selected ICsense to design and supply the high-voltage ASIC for the world's first digital MEMS speaker. This unique development will benefit from ICsense's long track record in MEMS ASICs. But at the same time, it will pose exciting challenges, since it combines innovative MEMS technology, high-voltage operation and disruptive speaker performance," explains Bram De Muer, CEO and co-founder of ICsense. "We look forward to be part of Audio Pixels's MEMS digital speakers that will change the way we perceive voice and music on future electronic devices."
Audio Pixels said that its technological platform utilizes entirely new techniques to generate sound waves directly from a digital audio stream using low cost MEMS based devices. Reportedly, this innovation overcomes many of the limitations found in conventional loudspeaker subassemblies, thus enabling the production of speaker products that deliver superior sound and electrical performance -- all in a semiconductor type package that is compatible with existing and emerging OEM requirements.
ICsense is a fabless IC design company offering design and supply ASIC solutions for the consumer, medical, industrial, automotive and aerospace markets. The core business of ICsense is analog, mixed-signal and high-voltage IC design. ICsense said that it has key design expertise in power management, high-efficient DC/DC conversion, HV IC design, drivers, MEMS, sensor and actuator interfacing, ADC-DAC, timing circuits and ultra low power design.
Audio Pixels Holdings Limited is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, and owns 100% of Audio Pixels Limited, an Israeli company founded in July 2006 that has developed the MEMS based speaker technology. The company claims that the technoloogy enables the production of speaker products that deliver performance that is "many orders of magnitude better" than conventional speaker technologies, all in an "affordable" package that is only one millimetre thick.
Audio Pixels says that its MEMS based "digital sound reconstruction" platform enables the market for audio speakers to follow the evolution of the video display market from large, heavy analog tube based monitors to the digital flat panel displays of today. Driving the rationale for change in audio speakers is the ever-increasing demand for smaller, thinner, clearer sounding, more power-efficient speakers. Reportedly, conventional speaker technologies remain deeply rooted in the original voice coil inventions of Alexander Graham Bell. The inherent limitations of such speakers prohibit the delivery of quality sound in smaller packages. Audio Pixels' says that its patents in the fields of electromechanical structures, pressure generation, acoustic wave generation and control, signal processing and packaging, combine to "forever change" this paradigm.
Upon achieving mass production capabilities, Audio Pixels plans to sell and/or license its products to the manufacturers of speakers and consumer electronic devices worldwide, which collectively consume billions of speaker units annually. Audio Pixels plans to produce and sell a single type of a MEMS based silicon chip that can be used either as a standalone speaker or cascaded in any multiples of the same chip in order to achieve the desired performance specifications. Audio Pixels claims that this modular paradigm is entirely unique to the audio industry, which currently expends significant resources designing and specifying new drivers, acoustic chambers and drive electronics for each new device.
This article is a part of MEMS Journal's ongoing market research project in the area of audio devices and their applications in the consumer electronics market. If you would like to receive our comprehensive market research report on this topic, please contact Dr. Mike Pinelis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about rates and report contents.
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