USound Introduces Next-Generation Waterproof MEMS Speakers Targeting Wearable Category

September 7 2020, 01:10
USound, the Austrian company pioneering MEMS audio technology, has developed its next generation of MEMS speakers, surpassing market demands with its IPX8 water submersion resistance. Directly targeting wearable and hearable devices, these next-generation MEMS speakers withstand permanent submersion in water and are ready to power more efficient, low-power earbuds. USound also reports full bandwidth reproduction from a single MEMS speaker and competitive sound pressure level with no magnetic field or heat generation.

USound has been developing piezoelectric silicon MEMS speakers for over half a decade and has now introduced the second generation of these speakers after having secured sizable contracts with Chinese manufacturer 3nod Acoustiklink and other renowned tech brands in Asia and the USA.

"Thera", the second generation of MEMS speakers from USound, are integrated into an off-the-shelf audio module including amplifier and passives, widening the possibilities for earphone designs. The new device can be implemented into earbuds, offering more space for other components such as battery and sensors. And due to its state-of-the-art MEMS audio technology, it reaches maximum excursion at the smallest thickness.

USound also conducted all sorts of tests, including to test proof its IPX8 rating tests, and according to the company, the results confirmed that the new Thera MEMS speakers not only excel in form factor, weight and SPL on a broad bandwidth but can also be safely submerged up to 3 meters for about 30 minutes. This opens new application possibilities for both personal and professional uses close to water or underwater and will certainly appeal manufacturers of true wireless earbuds and all types of wearable products.

"For TWS use, sports are an important theme. Headphones are being equipped with additional sensors, trackers, music storage, and AI coaching; and the fit and the IPX rating helps offer a greater variety of workouts, including swimming”, says USound CTO Andrea Rusconi Clerici, which sees true wireless earbuds as one of the main use cases for the new Thera devices.

"Adding microspeakers without the adequate IPX qualification can be a tedious challenge as the mechanical design and assembly process of today’s earbuds have become increasingly complex. Providing the complete MEMS audio module as USound does allows manufacturers to save time, avoid additional costs and still provide high-end audio performance without having to develop and optimize the acoustic environment of the earbud," he states.

“The results of our water-resistance tests are exceptionally good and better that anyone else’s in the market. We know that many of our customers and other big players are highly interested and looking at IPX8 as top of the list for selling points for true wireless earphones,” Rusconi Clerici adds.

The next-generation MEMS speakers will be available with a diameter of 6mm or 10mm. USound is already sampling the new models of MEMS speakers to key manufacturers and indicates that the devices will be available for mass production in 2021. Developers interested in testing their designs with the new Thera MEMS speakers should contact the company. USound already offers a variety of evaluation boards and application development solutions.

USound microspeakers not only improve existing audio systems with quality audio reproduction but also enable diminishing the diameter and weight of the housing of any wearable or hearable due to the speakers’ reduced size. As a result of MEMS batch processing and a fully automated manufacturing process, the part-to-part variation is also the lowest in the audio industry. MEMS speakers comply with international reliability standards to ensure robustness and stable performance over the product lifetime.

Compared to other MEMS-based solutions available, USound MEMS speakers meet the market-demanded SPL requirements in the entire audio bandwidth and beyond, which enables not only sealed applications such as in-ear but also free-field and near-field applications such as wearables and ultrasound applications. The first generation of USound MEMS speakers, the Ganymede Series, is currently available through the Digi-key website.

The USound MEMS Speaker project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 858342.
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