Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#MEMS: "HD Ear Buds for Music and Phone to Allow Conversations Too"

People wearing headsets may soon become even more common, now that STMicroelectronics has teamed with Soundchip to create a single-chip high-definition audio component designed for in-ear monitors. IEMs are designed to be worn all the time, because they pass through sound from the outside world, but can instantly switch to answer your phone or to listen to music. Commercial products are not available yet, but when they are you are likely to know it right away when you see people conversing with each other without removing their ear-buds: R. Colin Johnson

Here is STMicroelectronics says about its MEMS microphone in the Soundchip: STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications and a leading supplier of high-performance audio ICs, together with Soundchip SA, a Swiss-based innovator in audio-systems technology and originator of the High Definition Personal-Audio™ (HD-PA®) Reference, today introduced technologies and components for the smart audio accessory – an exciting new concept in personal listening.

Worn like a pair of In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), the smart audio accessory features new means of controlling and personalizing the sound experience. Designed to be worn at all times, the smart audio accessory supports all use modes, including music, telephony and direct conversation, without requiring any reconfiguration of the apparatus in the ear. Furthermore, the smart audio accessory maintains a faithful reproduction of sound while providing a robust shield against unwanted background noise.

The smart audio accessory employs Soundchip’s patented sound-processing technologies to provide a natural and comfortable sound experience when speaking, even with the accessory in place and physically sealing the ear. By electro-acoustically “opening” this seal, the smart audio accessory is able to pass ambient sound directly to the wearer, providing an ability to listen and converse naturally with the accessory still in place.

The smart audio accessory provides the ability to conveniently switch between different audio sources - voice, music or ambient sound – by simply pressing a button, making a pre-defined gesture or issuing a voice command. Various options are supported, including those that leverage ST’s recognized leadership in MEMS motion sensors.

In addition, by connecting the smart audio accessory to a DSP or DSP-capable controller (such as the STM32 F4), and a smartphone or tablet computer, the sound experience can be further enhanced by taking advantage of custom-made apps, which individually process and mix sound sources to deliver innovative new features, such as augmented reality.

Comprising Soundchip’s patented HD-PA® Ready Electronic and Acoustic platforms combined with STMicroelectronics’ best-in-class HD-PA® Ready MEMS microphones, the smart audio accessory represents an exciting fusion of electronics, MEMS sensing technology and acoustics and provides a compelling example of the future of personal audio.

Soundchip and ST will be presenting examples of the smart audio accessory concept to customers throughout June.
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