MEMS-based loudspeakers startup gets €2.6M in first round

April 02, 2020 //By Julien Happich
A spin-off from Fraunhofer IPMS, startup Arioso Systems GmbH has successfully completed its first round of financing to launch an innovative sound transducer principle for miniaturized headphones, entirely silicon-based.

The MEMS-based micro loudspeaker technology is based on the patented Nanoscopic Electrostatic Drive (NED) principle from the Fraunhofer IPMS. Instead of a conventional membrane, the sound transducer is built inside the body of a silicon chip as a series of bending strips similar to the strings on a harp. New electrostatic actuators called Nano E-Drives are integrated inside the 20µm wide bending strips, which are energized by vibrations from the audio signal voltage. These vibrations are heard as sound. As these components can be directly integrated into the silicon chip, they take up less space and are significantly more energy-efficient than conventional loudspeakers, making them well suited for future, highly-integrated in-ear headphone or hearable applications, such as instant translation, pay functions and other speech-based Internet services.

“With our spin-off company, we wanted to introduce new audio technology to the market and thereby make a contribution to the competitiveness of Germany’s industry,” explains Prof. Harald Schenk, Institute Director for the Fraunhofer IPMS. “We are therefore very happy about the successful completion of the first financing round.”

“Thanks to technology from the Fraunhofer IPMS, Arioso Systems GmbH is one of the first companies on the global market to provide a CMOS-compatible chip solution for loudspeakers. This is a technological revolution,” explains Prof. Hubert Lakner, who manages the Fraunhofer IPMS together with Prof. Schenk. “Above all, as the technology is based on silicon semiconductor processes, it is also more easily scalable than competing technologies.”

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