AT&S, Soundchip, and STMicroelectronics have collaborated to develop a wearable "bionic hearing module".
When personal audio devices like an mp3 player or smartphone is equipped with the bionic hearing module, wearers will have the ability to electronically “open” and “close” their ears to ambient sound conditions. They will also be able to augment ambient sound with programmed audio from a connected smart device.
According to the developing partners, users of its bionic hearing module can use this capability to protect themselves from noise if the ambient sound is too loud, or to conduct natural conversation with others without having to remove the device.
The bionic hearing module integrates a variety of sensors, including head-tracking, allowing its application to be extended.
Soundchip provided its HD-PA technology to enable multi-mode audio capabilities, while Soundstrate technology enabled a compact implementation. Soundstrate is a single compact mechanical structure which efficiently combines electronic, acoustic and transmission capabilities.
STMicroelectronics provided the latest motion and audio MEMS components for the module, including an HD-PA-compliant Audio Engine for zero-latency sound processing, and an ultra-low-power STM32 MCU.
The bionic hearing module’s packaging employs the latest in ECP (Embedded Component Packaging) and 2.5D PCB (Printed Circuit Board) technology from AT&S, which is capable of efficiently integrating acoustic, electroacoustic, passive and active electronic components with unmatched efficiency, allowing the electronics capabilities to be squeezed into an in-ear module.
“Enabling bionic hearing demands the interconnection of robust and reliable high-performance silicon components within a complex structure—that must be comfortable to wear. By combining our leading MEMS and micro-processing devices with complementary solutions from Soundchip and AT&S, we have the right combination of technology and know-how to deliver this ground-breaking solution,” said Andrea Onetti, Volume MEMS & Analog Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics.