Consumer Peripherals

MWC 2018: TDK Expands MEMS Portfolio with Acquisition of Chirp Microsystems

28 February 2018

An ultrasonic MEMS sensor from Chirp. Source: Chirp MicroelectronicsAn ultrasonic MEMS sensor from Chirp. Source: Chirp MicroelectronicsTDK Corp. will acquire ultrasonic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) vendor Chirp Microsystems Inc. in a bid to maintain its presence in 3D sensing technologies.

Chirp will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TDK and will operate out of the InvenSense facility in Silicon Valley. TDK acquired InvenSense a little more than a year ago to expand its MEMS range in the automotive, manufacturing and energy markets. The terms of the deal were not disclosed and the acquisition is expected to close within the next few days.

The Chirp ultrasonic MEMS enable precise sensing and range from several centimeters to several meters, sensing the distance to an object. The sensors operate with low power consumption and enable products to be reduced in size. The ultrasonic MEMS sensors will be used in combination with exiting fingerprint sensors from InvenSense to expand the overall ultrasonic portfolio from TDK.

“Back in the 1990s, no one knew how popular gyroscopes were going to be because no one needed it,” Dave Horsley, CTO and co-founder of Chirp tells Electronics360. “But MEMS gryoscopes displaced initial inertial sensors and offered a smaller lower power than these devices opening up new ways to design technology. Now, gryoscopes are in every smartphone. We believe the same promise holds for our ultrasonic sensors in the future.”

Horsley says current Chirp customers are using its ultrasonic sensors for smart home devices for object detection, drones and robotics for collision avoidance, virtual reality and augmented reality systems for all-in-one VR/AR systems to provide for inside out tracking. Horsley says the company is working with an all-in-one mobile VR vendor that will be announcing the product this year and a smart home company using Chirp’s sensors to detect user presence which could ship this year.

The announcement was made at the 2018 Mobile World Congress taking place this week in Barcelona.

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