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Albany, CA, United States

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.


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: 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.


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Horsley D.A.,Chirp Microsystems | Horsley D.A.,University of California at Davis | Przybyla R.J.,Chirp Microsystems | Kline M.H.,Chirp Microsystems | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) | Year: 2016

This paper describes air-coupled piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducers (PMUTs) for consumer electronics applications including time-of-flight range-finding, proximity and presence sensing, and gesture recognition. These applications require sensors that are small size, low-cost, and ultra-low-power, all of which are characteristics of PMUTs. © 2016 IEEE. Source

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