ST moves into MEMS microphones

STMicroelectronics is using sensor technology licensed from Omron to support a push into the market for microphones based on micromachined devices.

ST claimed micro-machined or MEMS acoustic devices can meet the price points set by electret microphones but offer greater reliability and robustness. On top of that, MEMS microphones can be made smaller than the most compact electret designs and are less susceptible to mechanical vibration, temperature variations and electromagnetic interference.

“In the past, microphones were the domain of expert acoustics companies, but now it’s time for semiconductor MEMS players to drive the growth of this market. We’re aiming to increase the size of the MEMS microphone market by an order of magnitude,” claimed Benedetto Vigna, general manager of ST’s MEMS and healthcare division. “Working together with our Japanese friends, we'll drive the microphone market growth as we have done in motion sensors.”

Samples of digital MEMS microphones that combine ST’s electronic control circuit with Omron’s micro-machined sensor in a single package will be available before the end of this year, at less than one dollar for large-volume orders.

According to iSuppli’s most recent research, the market for micro-machined acoustic devices for consumer electronics and mobile handsets is forecast to grow at a rate of 18 per cent between 2008 and 2013, when it will exceed one billion parts per year.

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