BARCELONA–()–Nanusens, the pioneer of sensors built inside CMOS, has announced that
its proprietary technology can significantly increase the operational
life of earbuds by up to 20%. This can be achieved by replacing the MEMS
sensors in an earbud with a single multi-sensor chip solution that is up
to ten times smaller, freeing up space for larger batteries. The company
will be announcing this technology solution at MWC
in Barcelona, Spain on booth 6M14 in Hall 6.

A MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) sensor package contains a chip
with the MEMS sensor, which is made on the microscopic scale, and a chip
with the control electronics resulting in a volume of four cubic
millimetres. Nanusens creates its sensors on the nanoscale within the
layers of its CMOS chip that also has the control electronics. As a
result, the NEMS (Nano Electro Mechanical Systems) chip is only one
cubic millimetre so this will create a saving of three cubic millimetres
for every MEMS package that it replaces.

The more MEMS packages are replaced and their functions done by a
multi-sensor Nanusens chip, the greater the space savings plus the
Nanusens chip only increases slightly with every additional sensor
function to accommodate additional control electronics. In addition, far
less PCB estate is needed for the tiny, single chip solution compared to
the PCB estate required for several MEMS packages. All this freed-up
space can be used to increase the size of the battery or add a
supercapacitor to extend the battery life to give a better user
experience and is of tremendous interest to earbud manufacturers.

Dr Josep Montanyà, CEO Nanusens, explained, “We are in a unique position
of being able to provide more space inside earbuds for designers to use
as they wish with our nano-sensors. While some manufacturers want more
battery life by using a larger battery or a supercapacitor, others want
to use some of this freed-up space for features such as memory so that
songs can be stored locally on the earbud. This is another way to extend
the battery life as songs would not need to streamed over Bluetooth,
again giving longer audio on the go™.”

The current earbud market is 50 million units a year and this is
forecast to grow extremely fast. The key driver is manufacturers
removing thick, bulky headphone sockets from their mobile phone designs,
so that they can have thinner phone designs with more space for the
battery and additional features.* “New smartphone sales are forecast to
be 1.5 billion units a year so as more and more start to ship with a
pair of earbuds, our total available market is phenomenal, which is why
this is our first target market,” said Dr Montanyà.

“We have started discussions with the leading players in the value chain
to make them aware of our innovative technology so that they can start
the design-in process,” added Dr Montanyà. “Awareness of a means to
significantly increase the battery life of earbuds by the phone and
earbud manufacturers will create the pull through the value chain to the
Bluetooth chips manufacturers. The latter provide example designs for
earbuds that are often used throughout the industry so we are targeting
to be in these designs.”

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.

“Our nano-sensor technology is very adaptable so we will be using it to
create a range of other sensors,” Dr Montanyà concluded. “These can be
created at the same time in the same chip so many different types of
sensors can be built into a tiny multi-sensor solution without taking up
more space. This provides companies with a roadmap of exciting
additional features to enhance the user experience such as controlling
the earbuds with head gesture recognition. Our nano-sensors offer a
unique combination of significantly smaller solutions, lower power
needs, ruggedness, and multi-functionality in a single integrated chip
so, after earbuds, we will be bringing our multi-sensor nano-solutions
to the wearables and IoT markets.”

Nanusens nano-sensor technology

MEMS sensors are created using expensive proprietary processes.
Nanusens’ multi-patent pending technology enables it to create
nano-sensors inside the CMOS layers using standard CMOS processes within
the same production flow as the rest of the chip production. This
innovative approach reduces the size and cost of the sensors. Nanusens
believes that its disruptive technology will revolutionise the sensor
market and meet the ever-increasing demand for lower cost sensors in
smartphones, wearable technology and IoT devices that has already made
sensors a multi-billion-dollar industry as they provide the vital
interface between the real world and the electronics.

The nanoscale of this technology means that it has ultra-low power
consumption. Importantly for a sensor in a device that is likely to be
dropped, the NEMS design is more robust and reliable than MEMS designs.

How the Nanusens sensors are made using standard CMOS processes

The Inter Metal Dielectric (IMD) is etched away through the pad openings
in the passivation layer using vapour HF (vHF) to create the nano-sensor
structures. The holes are then sealed and the chip packaged as
necessary. As only standard CMOS processes with minimal post-processing
are used and the sensors can be directly integrated with active
circuitry as required, the sensors can potentially have high yields
similar to CMOS devices. This also means that the production is

* See https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/johnpaczkowski/inside-iphone-7-why-apple-killed-the-headphone-jack

About Nanusens www.nanusens.com

Nanusens is pioneering sensors built inside CMOS. Nanusens
patent-pending technology shrinks MEMS sensors and builds nano-scale
sensors (NEMS – Nano Electro Mechanical Systems) along with the control
electronics using standard CMOS processes. This creates single chip
solutions that are up to ten times smaller than the equivalent
multi-package MEMS. The freed-up space can be used for larger batteries
for longer operational life battery or additional features. Many
different sensors can be built into the same tiny chip to enhance the
user experience and differentiate products without taking up more space.
Its expertise and pending patents place it as the uncontested leader in
this technology that will revolutionise the next generation of sensors.

Founded in 2014 by Dr. Josep Montanyà, Dr. Marc Llamas, and Dr Daniel
Fernandez, Nanusens is headquartered in London, England with Research
and Development offices in Barcelona, Spain and Shenzen, China. It
leverages the research and expertise developed by the founders’ previous
company, Baolab Microsystems. Nanusens is VC funded by Inveready (www.inveready.com/venture-capital/),
Caixa Capital Risc (www.caixacapitalrisc.es/en/)
and Dieco Capital (www.dieco-capital.com),
and crowdfunding via Crowdcube.

Longer audio on the go is a trademark of Nanusens Limited


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