European chip giant STMicroelectronics and audio start-up USound will collaborate on what they claim is the world’s first miniature piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) actuators for audio systems inside portable devices.
The agreement will utilize ST’s thin-film piezoelectric (TFP) technology combined with USound’s micro-speaker technology to create actuators that will feature low-power consumption and heat dissipation in hearables and smartphones. The actuators would replace commonly-used balanced armature and electrodynamic receivers in portable devices.
For ST, the agreement will expand its reach into the MEMS market with actuator technology that addresses a large portion of the audio market with its high barriers to entry. The piezo-MEMS actuators will improve reliability, efficiency and sound improvements to smartphones and other sound devices, ST says.
USound says piezo-MEMS devices improve audio fidelity and device reliability in thin form factors because of their mechanical precision. The companies plan for the first product to be in production in the third quarter with shipping in consumer products scheduled by the end of the year.