How MEMS microphones link the real and the digital world – part 2
As we have laid out in the previous post, there are several reasons why MEMS microphones have become the standard audio sensor in most of today’s consumer devices. Their small size, good audio performance, and low power consumption make them well-suited for audio applications. Since they are produced with semiconductor processes, costs can be lowered to allow for mass uptake in many different devices. For sure, you are using MEMS microphones in your daily life – if you want to know where read on.
Sensing the world – and hearing your voice!
The second boost for the MEMS microphone market clearly came with true wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds. These hearing devices have taken the earphone market by storm, more and more replacing the wired headsets that typically came with every smartphone. TWS has undergone a transition: In the beginning, they were little more than a novelty item and a convenient way to get rid of wires when listening to music. But now, TWS has advanced features like active noise cancellation (ANC), functions like digital ears for transparent hearing and conversation boosts, and has bone conduction sensors to allow calls in very noisy environments. This is enabled by MEMS microphones and reflected in the market growth from 22M US$ in 2010 to 260M US$ in 2022.
One of the earliest devices to adopt MEMS microphones were smartphones. The clear use case of voice communication demanded small and robust microphones, increasing the number of microphones from 1 to up to 4 per device. According to Omdia, the MEMS microphone market for smartphones has grown from 150M US$ in 2010 to 760M US$ in 2022.
The next MEMS microphone frontier – IoT and smart cities?
As we are becoming more connected in our daily lives, so do our surroundings become smarter and more data driven: From smart speakers with human-machine voice interfaces and connected home appliances to predictive maintenance, remote controls and wearables, the Internet of Things (IoT) is all around us. MEMS microphones in the broad IoT category are now a market worth 320M US$ and are expected to grow to 420M US$ in 2026. While the by far biggest application in this market are smart speakers, industrial and infrastructure has great potential for MEMS microphones: Sensing sound abnormalities that could point to needed maintenance, monitoring noise in cities or classification of different types of noise and sounds throughout the day – audio sensing will become more and more relevant as our cities become smarter and we realize the importance of checking noise levels, just as we have with our air. In project MARVEL, Infineon is supplying its latest XENSIVTM MEMS microphones. With low self-noise and high acoustic overload point, their dynamic range is suited to capture the relevant noise sources in a city. Together with the partners in the project, this ensures the necessary hardware and software is in place to enable an accurate noise mapping of the cities of tomorrow and to intervene early to provide better quality of living for the inhabitants.
Blog signed by: IFAG team
- Project Coordinator: Dr. Sotiris Ioannidis
- Institution: Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH)
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Start: 01.01.2021
- Duration: 36 months
- Participating Organisations: 17
- Number of countries: 12
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under grant agreement No 957337. The website reflects only the view of the author(s) and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.