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Arioso Systems -- MEMS micro Speaker  
Founded: Jan 2019
Status: Acquired by Bosch 5/22
Source: Semiconductor Times, 1/22
Maria-Reiche-Str. 3
Tel: +49 351-50195950

Arioso Systems was spun off from Fraunhofer IPMS in 2019 to commercialize NED μSpeaker technology. The company has an exclusive license agreement with Fraunhofer IPMS on NED μSpeaker technology for audio applications worldwide. Arioso’s vision is “to become the number one supplier of µSpeaker technology for the ultra-mobile audio world.”

The company closed a 2.7M€ seed round in early 2020 from Brandenburg Kapital, HTGF, TGFS and two business angels, along with public funding. Arioso is currently in the middle of Series A talks and plans to close the round in 1H’22, raising approx. 10M€. A series B in 2024 is likely. The company has 17 employees.

NED μSpeaker technology replaces the conventional loudspeaker membrane with hundreds of moving beams, which use the chip’s volume instead of the surface to produce sound. This minimizes size and cost. Each individual beam displaces only a tiny amount of air. The required sound pressure level is reached by the sheer number of beams in one chip. With this approach, a 10 mm˛ active area µSpeaker chip can achieve a sound pressure level of 120 dB.

The small electrode gaps allow for low driving voltages easily generated from micro batteries. With Arioso’s low electrical capacitance design, allowing for chip capacities below 1 nF, and Arioso’s proprietary amplifier technology, power consumption below 3.5mW at sound pressure levels as high as 120dB SPL and frequencies as high as 3kHz is within reach.

Established electrodynamic speaker technology is the main competitor, as well as other MEMS speaker companies such as USound and XMEMS. Arioso argues that its speaker will offer the lowest power consumption among all microspeaker technologies, especially when coupled with Arioso’s ASIC driver chips. It’s µSpeaker is made from 100% silicon and use widespread CMOS production standards, thereby easily scaling for the mass market. Other MEMS speakers employ piezo materials, which contain lead, are not CMOS compatible, and have a membrane. These aspects tend to increase their size and power drain, and complicate production.

Some of the best sounding headphones are based on electrostatic transducers. Arioso targets enabling this high-fidelity sound experience for all types of in-ear audio devices. Prototypes of Arioso’s MEMS speaker chips have shipped to selected customers with production anticipated in 2024. Arioso will also offer matching ASIC driver chips and packages, enabling ultra-low power consumption.

Hermann Schenk, Managing Director (previously founder and CEO of Covion Organic Semiconductors, which was acquired by Merck KGaA, and managing director of Freiberger Compound Materials, a leading manufacturer of III/V- semiconductor wafers)

Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth, Managing Director (previously founder and CTO/CSO of Novaled, which was sold to a group of Samsung companies),

Lutz Ehrig, Head of Technical Marketing & New Business Development (joined the MEMS µSpeaker team at Fraunhofer IPMS in 2017)

Holger Conrad, Head of MEMS Production and Development (inventor of the NED driving principle of Arioso’s µSpeakers; previously business unit manager at Fraunhofer IPMS)

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