Paul Clemens, Head of Project Management at Sonion, spoke to AZoSensors about Sonion's expertise and their attendance at TDK's Developers Conference.
Please tell us a bit about Sonion.
Sonion is a B2B supplier of micro acoustic and micromechanical technologies and solutions for Hearing Instruments and other advanced ear-level audio devices. We are a leading supplier to the global Hearing Aid Industry and world #1 supplier of BA receivers for high-end and professional audio use.
Sonion was founded in Denmark in 1974 and has facilities in Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, the US, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. In total we have ~6,200 employees. Since September 2014, Sonion has been owned by Novo Holdings A/S (Denmark).
What kind of application areas do Sonion’s products have?
Sonion products are used in hearing instruments, in-ear monitors, earphones and hearables. Our core expertise is in sound quality, miniaturization and low power consumption. All factors that are a must-have for hearing instruments, but that also play an important role in the hearable market.
The hearing instrument market is our core competence; we have over 40 years’ experience in supplying transducers to this market.
Recently we have been expanding into earphones and hearables, many of which have the same challenges as hearing instruments. Our products fit very well in these applications as well.
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How are Sonion’s products unique in the marketplace?
We have a broad range of balanced armature receivers that are used in hearing instruments; from very small receivers that fit into almost invisible in-ear instruments, to very large ultra-power receivers that are used in powerful behind the ear instruments for people with severe hearing loss. The same balanced armatures are used in high end in-ear monitors, due to their excellent sound quality.
Recently we launched an electrostatic tweeter, the first of its kind that can fit into the ear and deliver a unique high-end sound signature.
Another important product segment for us are microphones for the hearing instrument market; unique in their very low power consumption and a very low noise floor.
Traditionally we are very strong in electret microphones, and in the last five years we have also added MEMS microphones to our portfolio via our partnership with InvenSense.
We also recently added highly accurate biometric PPG sensors to our portfolio by entering a partnership with Valencell, this gives us the possibility to combine audio and optical sensor technology.
How will these components and solutions for hearing and communications continue to develop in the future?
We expect that hearing instruments become more and more multi-functional, adding additional features like heart rate monitoring and own voice pick up capabilities to the device. Also the line between hearing aids and hearables will become more blurry, especially for the large group of people with mild hearing losses. For us this means we need to continue to develop low power products in even smaller form factors. On top of that we will need to focus on combining functionality into modules.
What can attendees at TDK’s Developer Conference expect from your speaking session?
At the TDK Developers Conference, I will introduce the Sonion Voice Pick Up sensor. This sensor makes use of bone conduction and it can pick up your own voice in the ear canal. The great benefit of using bone conduction is that it is not sensitive to any outside noise, this makes it a very reliable way of picking up your own voice; even in very difficult and noisy circumstances, like windy conditions or in a crowded bar.
It is also enables barge-in functionality, that allows the user to give voice commands while playing music. I will present the basic principles of the VPU and the key specifications, but also give several examples of use-cases that you can enable with this sensor and hopefully inspire the audience to come up with many more relevant use-cases for the Sonion Voice Pick Up sensor.
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