MEMS microphone measures two millimeters square

PORTLAND, Ore. — What is touted as the world's smallest analog microphone fits into a package as much as four times smaller than existing analog microphones, according to developer Akustica Inc. (Pittsburgh).

The 2-mm2 chip houses a 1-mm2 MEMS microphone die that the company announced last year. The newly packaged chip can be mounted alone or in arrays of two or more for sophisicated acoustic processing.

Davin Yuknis, vice president of marketing and product management, claimed the MEMS device is “so small that you can put three or four of our analog silicon microphones in the same space as a single conventional mic.”

Akustica’s digital microphones are used by PC makers on high-end models like Fujitsu's LifeBook. The primary markets for miniature microphones, however, is mobile handsets and Bluetooth headsets, where digital microphones are not yet being used.

Akustica said its analog MEMS microphone also features lower power than conventional mics, drawing only 140 microwatts in typical applications without sacrificing quality. It also delivers 42 dB sensitivity and a signal-to-noise ratio of 58 dB.

“We expect many headset and handset designers to be switching to digital mics, but for now the biggest trend we see is designers using multiple analog microphones in the same space as their single-mic designs,” said Mark Nave, Akustica's product marketing manager.

Akustica has yet to announce design wins for its analog microphone, but has distributed samples to several customers which it expects to name soon. “Early adopters” of Akustica's microphones “are Bluetooth headset manufacturers,” said marketing director Marcie Weinstein. “Cellphones won't be far behind–there, it's getting to be more about dual microphone handsets.”

Multiple microphones used in arrays could enable noise cancellation and beam-steering of microphone pickup pattern. Those capabilities are being design into high-end headsets and handsets.

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