Knowles

MEMS Microphones – A Bright Spot among Commoditized Consumer Sensors

By: Jun Yan, Ph.D., MEMS Technical Director

MEMS Microphone picture

Source: InfineonTechnologies, AG, “The Infineon Silicon MEMS Microphone”, DOI:10.5162/sensor2013/A4.3

MEMS microphones have emerged as a bright spot among consumer sensors, which in general are going through a rapid commoditization and profit-squeezing trend. To understand what’s driving the MEMS microphone market, consider that the Apple iPhone 7 and 7S each has 4 MEMS microphones. As reported by System Plus Consulting, the latest iPhones have “a front-facing top microphone, presumably for FaceTime and speakerphone capabilities, two front-facing bottom microphones located at the bottom-front of the device, used for voice commands and voice calls, and a rear-facing top microphone for video recording and noise cancellation” – and all these different use cases have different requirements. It is not surprising therefore that Apple has 3 MEMS microphone suppliers: Knowles, STMicroelectronics, and Goertek. This bright spot has gained industry-wide attention, as evidenced by a report in EE Times that MEMS microphones are one of the next platforms that TSMC will offer.

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