Albany, CA, United States
Albany, CA, United States

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A piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducer (PMUT) is disclosed. The PMUT consists of a flexural membrane that is piezoelectrically actuated. These membranes are formed on a first substrate that is bonded to a second substrate. The two substrates are separated by an air gap to allow the PMUT to vibrate. Several methods for joining the two substrates are described.


Patent
Chirp Microsystems | Date: 2017-06-07

A miniature rangefinder includes a housing, a micromachined ultrasonic transducer, and signal processing circuitry. The housing includes a substrate and a lid. The housing has one or more apertures and the micromachined ultrasonic transducer is mounted over an aperture. The micromachined ultrasonic transducer may function as both a transmitter and a receiver. An integrated circuit is configured to drive the transducer to transmit an acoustic signal, detect a return signal, and determine a time of flight between emitting the acoustic signal and detecting the return signal.


A transducer includes first and second piezoelectric layers made of corresponding different first and second piezoelectric materials and three or more electrodes, implemented in two or more conductive electrode layers. The first piezoelectric layer is sandwiched between a first pair of electrodes and the second piezoelectric layer is sandwiched between a second pair of electrodes. The first and second pairs of electrodes contain no more than one electrode that is common to both pairs.


Chirp's MEMS-based ultrasonic sensor also enables ultra-wide field-of-view, inside-out controller tracking for mobile VR/AR at 1/1000 power of other solutions BARCELONA, SPAIN--(Marketwired - Feb 28, 2017) -  Chirp Microsystems, the pioneer in low-power ultrasonic sensing solutions, today introduced at Mobile World Congress 2017 the first high-accuracy, ultra-low power ultrasonic sensing development platform for wearables. The new Chirp development platform -- which leverages the company's microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based time-of-flight (ToF) sensor -- senses tiny "microgestures" with 1mm accuracy, allowing users to interact with wearables and other consumer electronics devices using the smallest of gestures. Chirp's ToF sensor is also the foundation for vastly superior virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) experiences, which the company demonstrated privately at Mobile World Congress. Chirp's ultrasonic sensing development platform for VR/AR enhances the mobility of users, supporting "inside-out tracking" of controllers or input devices with six degrees of freedom, which allows users to interact with the VR/AR environment without being tethered to a base station or confined to a prescribed space. They can literally take their VR/AR systems with them. In VR/AR applications, Chirp's development platform offers significant benefits over camera-based controller-tracking systems. It makes possible a 360-degree immersive experience because the tracking system moves with the user. It also supports a wide field of view, a vast improvement over the narrow field of view that camera-based systems provide. "Chirp has developed a revolutionary new approach to ultrasonic sensing that expands the ways in which users can interact with consumer electronics devices," said Michelle Kiang, CEO, Chirp Microsystems. "We are demonstrating some of those ways this week at Mobile World Congress. Wearing a Chirp-enabled smartwatch, I can use subtle finger gestures on the back of my hand, controlling watch functions without ever touching the screen. I will also demonstrate how Chirp makes the mobile VR experience one step closer to that of high-end tethered VR systems. We developed an ultrasonically tracked, six-degree-of-freedom controller that connects to any mobile VR headset, letting me play a VR saber game anywhere on the show floor, or even under the sunlight outside the exhibit halls. Since the controller is tracked from the headset, I can move anywhere in the virtual environment and the tracking moves with me, making the VR experience that much more immersive." For More Information Chirp's ultrasonic sensing development platforms are now available to qualified customers. For more information, please email: info@chirpmicro.com. About Chirp Technology Chirp's ultrasonic development platforms leverage its proprietary ToF sensor, a system in package (SiP) that combines a MEMS ultrasound transducer with a power-efficient digital signal processor (DSP) on a custom low-power mixed-signal CMOS ASIC. Relative to existing optical ToF sensors, Chirp's ultrasonic ToF sensor has extremely low power consumption, wide 180-degree field of view and works in any lighting conditions, including direct sunlight, and can detect objects of any color including optically transparent ones. Compared to existing infrared (IR) ToF sensors, Chirp's ToF sensor offers ultra-precise range and position measurement. For more information, visit: http://www.chirpmicro.com/technology.html About Chirp Microsystems Chirp Microsystems is bringing ultrasound to everyday products. Founded in 2013 based on pioneering research performed at the University of California, Chirp's piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers offer long range and low power in a tiny package, enabling products that perceive the three-dimensional world in which we live. Combined with Chirp's embedded software library, these sensors enable new user interfaces for wearables, smart home and other IoT devices, AR/VR and many more. For more information, please visit: www.chirpmicro.com The Chirp Microsystems logo is a registered trademark of Chirp Microsystems. All other product and company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SMALL BUSINESS PHASE II | Award Amount: 971.00K | Year: 2015

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes the development of an ultralow-power ultrasonic three-dimensional (3D) rangefinder system for mobile gesture recognition. The proposed 3D rangefinder uses an array of tiny piezoelectric ultrasound transducers which are built on a silicon wafer using microfabrication techniques. Custom electronics are used to control the transducers and the system emits sound into the air and receives echoes from objects in front of the transducer array. The proposed ultrasonic 3D rangefinder has the potential to be small and low-power enough to be left on continuously, giving devices such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable electronic devices a way to sense physical objects in the surrounding environment. Based on the smartphone market alone, the potential market size for this device is over one billion units per year. Mobile contextual awareness will enable 3D interaction with smartphones and tablets, facilitating rich user interfaces for applications such as gaming and hands-free control in automobiles. Looking beyond the smartphone and tablet market, the proposed rangefinder will feature size and power advantages that will permit integration into centimeter-sized devices which are too small to support a touchscreen.

During Phase II, the major technical goals of this project are to transfer the ultrasound transducer manufacturing from a university laboratory to a commercial production facility, to develop a custom integrated circuit for signal processing, and to develop engineering prototypes. In Phase I, micromachined ultrasound transducers having a novel structure designed to improve manufacturability were developed and a demonstration prototype was built using signal processing algorithms running on a personal computer. In Phase II, the ultrasound transducers will be manufactured in a commercial facility for the first time and signal processing algorithms will be realized on a custom mixed-signal integrated circuit. A prototype package for the transducer and integrated circuit chips will be developed and detailed acoustic testing of the packaged prototypes will be conducted.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes the development of an ultrasonic three-dimensional (3D) rangefinder system for mobile gesture recognition. Optical gesture recognition has been introduced for gaming and will soon be launched for personal computer (PC) interaction, but optical gesture sensors are too large and power-hungry to be incorporated into tablets, smartphones, and smaller devices. The proposed 3D rangefinder uses an array of tiny piezoelectric ultrasound transducers which are built on a silicon wafer using microfabrication techniques. Custom electronics are used to control the transducers. In operation, the system emits sound into the air and receives echoes from objects in front of the transducer array. The system infers the location of the objects by measuring the time delay between transmission of the sound wave and reception of the echo. The system will be designed for incorporation into smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to bring contextual awareness to everyday devices, which currently have very little idea about what is going on in the space around them. The proposed ultrasonic 3D rangefinder has the potential to be small and low-power enough to be left on continuously, giving the device a way to sense the physical objects surrounding it in the environment. While today's optical 3D ranging systems work across a small room and are capable of sufficient resolution, they are too large and power hungry to be integrated into battery-powered devices. Mobile contextual awareness will enable 3D interaction with smartphones and tablets, facilitating rich user interfaces for applications such as gaming and hands-free control in automobiles. Looking beyond the smartphone and tablet market, the proposed rangefinder would be well-suited for wearable devices that are too small or simply don't allow for a full-function touchscreen, such as head mounted displays and smart watches. These products currently have limited input options since the area available for buttons and touch-sensor inputs is only slightly larger than a finger. Ultrasonic contextual awareness has the potential to revolutionize the user interface for tiny consumer electronics.


A rangefinding apparatus and method are disclosed. The apparatus may include at least one processor and memory operably connected to the at least one processor. The memory may store instructions that, when executed, cause the apparatus to iterate a target-acquisition process until a target is identified and then iterate a target-tracking process after the target has been identified. The target-acquisition process may include transmitting a short ultrasonic pulse, transmitting a long ultrasonic pulse, and listening for one or more echoes corresponding to the short or long ultrasonic pulses. The target-tracking process may include steering an optimized ultrasonic pulse toward the target, listening for an echo corresponding to the optimized ultrasonic pulse, and calculating, based on the echo, an updated location for the target.


Patent
Chirp Microsystems | Date: 2016-04-28

A piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducer (PMUT) device includes a substrate having an opening therethrough and a membrane attached to the substrate over the opening. A portion of the membrane that overlies the opening is divided into a plurality of cantilevers that are mechanically coupled so that the cantilevers resonate at a common frequency.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project proposes the development of an ultrasonic three-dimensional (3D) rangefinder system for mobile gesture recognition. Optical gesture recognition has been introduced for gaming and will soon be launched for personal computer (PC) interaction, but optical gesture sensors are too large and power-hungry to be incorporated into tablets, smartphones, and smaller devices. The proposed 3D rangefinder uses an array of tiny piezoelectric ultrasound transducers which are built on a silicon wafer using microfabrication techniques. Custom electronics are used to control the transducers. In operation, the system emits sound into the air and receives echoes from objects in front of the transducer array. The system infers the location of the objects by measuring the time delay between transmission of the sound wave and reception of the echo. The system will be designed for incorporation into smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to bring contextual awareness to everyday devices, which currently have very little idea about what is going on in the space around them. The proposed ultrasonic 3D rangefinder has the potential to be small and low-power enough to be left on continuously, giving the device a way to sense the physical objects surrounding it in the environment. While todays optical 3D ranging systems work across a small room and are capable of sufficient resolution, they are too large and power hungry to be integrated into battery-powered devices. Mobile contextual awareness will enable 3D interaction with smartphones and tablets, facilitating rich user interfaces for applications such as gaming and hands-free control in automobiles. Looking beyond the smartphone and tablet market, the proposed rangefinder would be well-suited for wearable devices that are too small or simply dont allow for a full-function touchscreen, such as head mounted displays and smart watches. These products currently have limited input options since the area available for buttons and touch-sensor inputs is only slightly larger than a finger. Ultrasonic contextual awareness has the potential to revolutionize the user interface for tiny consumer electronics.


Grant
Agency: National Science Foundation | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes the development of an ultralow-power ultrasonic three-dimensional (3D) rangefinder system for mobile gesture recognition. The proposed 3D rangefinder uses an array of tiny piezoelectric ultrasound transducers which are built on a silicon wafer using microfabrication techniques. Custom electronics are used to control the transducers and the system emits sound into the air and receives echoes from objects in front of the transducer array. The proposed ultrasonic 3D rangefinder has the potential to be small and low-power enough to be left on continuously, giving devices such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable electronic devices a way to sense physical objects in the surrounding environment. Based on the smartphone market alone, the potential market size for this device is over one billion units per year. Mobile contextual awareness will enable 3D interaction with smartphones and tablets, facilitating rich user interfaces for applications such as gaming and hands-free control in automobiles. Looking beyond the smartphone and tablet market, the proposed rangefinder will feature size and power advantages that will permit integration into centimeter-sized devices which are too small to support a touchscreen. During Phase II, the major technical goals of this project are to transfer the ultrasound transducer manufacturing from a university laboratory to a commercial production facility, to develop a custom integrated circuit for signal processing, and to develop engineering prototypes. In Phase I, micromachined ultrasound transducers having a novel structure designed to improve manufacturability were developed and a demonstration prototype was built using signal processing algorithms running on a personal computer. In Phase II, the ultrasound transducers will be manufactured in a commercial facility for the first time and signal processing algorithms will be realized on a custom mixed-signal integrated circuit. A prototype package for the transducer and integrated circuit chips will be developed and detailed acoustic testing of the packaged prototypes will be conducted.

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