Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are fostering the development of advanced biomedical devices that will drastically improve our lives, as well as create new market opportunities. One such market involves devices for the hearing-impaired, where new advances in acoustic technology based on MEMS can now truly help millions of the hearing-impaired around the globe.
Until now, the performance limitations of conventional acoustic transducers, and in particular, microphones, have prevented hearing aids from truly satisfying the real-life needs of the hearing-impaired. In the future, MEMS-based acoustic technology, digital technologies, and ever-improving signal processing will overcome the constraints of conventional microphones.
This new acoustic technology represents at least a $75 million annual opportunity in the hearing-aid market alone. It can combine dozens of microphones or speakers onto a small, single semiconductor chip, offering unprecedented capabilities for capturing, processing, and reproducing sound. This will enable hearing-aid manufacturers to develop substantially better products with a range of new or improved features, such as noise cancellation, adaptive sensitivity, and directionality.