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Micromachined microphones with in-plane and out-of-plane directivity

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 2R44DC013746-02
Agency Tracking Number: R44DC013746
Amount: $999,977.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: Y
Solicitation Number: PA14-071
Solicitation Year: 2014
Award Year: 2015
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2015-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2018-06-30
Small Business Information
2124 E 6TH ST, STE 105
Austin, TX 78702-3498
United States
DUNS: 808319839
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (505) 306-9296
Business Contact
Phone: (512) 773-7684
Research Institution

Project Summary
We aim to introduce to the hearing assistive device industry directional microphones with high
signal to noise ratio and the first commercialized microphone that combines all three axes of
acoustic pressure gradient onto a single silicon chip We expect the technology to empower the
signal processing community with a new tool which when used in conjunction with a
conventional omnidirectional microphone will facilitate new features like ultra sharp
directionality adaptable in real time by the user and or artificial intelligence algorithms which
scan for desired inputs while filtering out unwanted noise Directional sensing and the ability
to filter out undesirable background acoustic noise are important for those with hearing
impairments Hearing impairment is associated with a loss of fidelity to quiet sounds while
the threshold of pain remains the same As such hearing impairment causes a loss of dynamic
range or window of detectable sound amplitudes Directional sensing enables preferentially
amplifying desired sounds without amplifying background noise
As the first step we aim to accelerate the commercialization of recently introduced biologically
inspired rocking style microphones by synthesizing these designs with integrated robust
piezoelectric readout which is ideal for addressing the low power small size and high levels of
integration required of the hearing aid industry Previous work in this field using laboratory
prototypes and optical readout have demonstrated the merits of the biologically inspired
sensing approach i e a simultaneous dB SNR improvement and x reduction size
improvement beyond what is achievable with present day hearing aid or MEMS microphones
By synthesizing a piezoelectric embodiment as an alternative to optical readout we aim to
accelerate through many of the commercialization challenges so that an impact to the hearing
device industry can be made Further the proposed readout is better adapted towards
integrating multiple microphones in the same silicon chip We aim to integrate a microphone
with both in plane axis of directivity with an out of plane directional design to form a complete
axis pressure gradient sensor Project Narrative
Studies show that today of Americans wear a hearing aid whereas at least of
Americans could benefit from a hearing assistive device The major reason for this gap is
patient dissatisfaction Hearing aid wearers suffer from what is known as the cocktail party
effect When the gain is turned up to hear the person speaking across from you noises in the
background are equally amplified making every scenario sound like a cocktail party This
research aims to make a positive long term improvement to hearing aid patient satisfaction by
making commercially available directional microphones with high fidelity

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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