X-ray of an earbud showing how the inside is packed with electronics. Shrinking sensors will free up invaluable space.
The problem with earbuds is that the battery life is not long enough. We free up space inside the earbud design by replacing sensors with our nanosensors. A typical MEMS sensor package is 4mm3 but ours is only 1mm3 so we free up 3mm3 for every sensor replaced with one of ours. So, three MEMS sensors replaced frees up 9mm3 for example and needs less PCB real estate. This can be used for bigger batteries or a supercapacitor to give Longer audio on the go™.
Or the freed-up space can be used for additional features such as more sensors. These are of two types. First, sensors such as bone conduction sensors to detect the user’s voice so that noise cancelling algorithms provide better outgoing voice quality. Second, enhanced situational awareness so that the earbud can detect if it is in the ear, in a pocket or on a surface in order that it can automatically turn itself on or off to conserve battery life. Again for Longer audio on the go™.
Until now, designers were severely constrained on adding extra sensors for better performance and additional lifestyle features as they would each take up valuable space inside the design. Our nanosensors can be easily added as they take up very little space giving them the freedom to design in as many sensors as they want.
Longer audio on the go is a trademark of Nanusens Limited.
Multiple sensors on one chip
In future, we will introduce products that combine several sensors on one chip with hardly any increase in chip size as the sensors are tiny and we can share most of the control electronics on the chip. This gives the designer the choice to free up more space or add more sensors without much space loss.
Roadmaps of solutions for earbuds
The first product from Nanusens will be a 2D motion detector for earbuds in Q4 2019, which can be used to implement tap and double tap for control, wake-on-movement and sleep-on-rest functions, and, soon after, a 3D accelerometer. A bone conduction sensor for noise cancellation is next to be integrated into the single chip solution. Chips will be available in a small package such as WLCSP or as bare die that can be attached directly to the PCB. Nanusens can deliver solutions for earbuds that no one else can. This is an exploding market with BES Tech noting volumes of five million earbuds/month in 2018 that they expect to grow to eight to ten million/month in 2019.
Headphone sockets are being designed out
The key driver for earbud market growth is that phone manufacturers are designing out bulky headphone sockets to free up space inside phones for larger batteries and more features, and using Bluetooth connectivity to earbuds. With 1.5 billion smartphones shipped each year, the market potential for Nanusens technology into the earbuds that these will need is tremendous.