Sound glasses use novel transmission into the ear
HiWave has announced an audio playback transducer for the frame of glasses and goggles, that creates sound via the air and through contact with the head.
Called Farina, applications are expected in sports, augmented reality, 3D gaming and 3D home cinema.
“When mounted onto the frames of spectacles, such as those used for 3D gaming, the Farina transducer stimulates the outer ear, or pinna, with a broadband audio signal, turning the spectacles into headsets,” said the Cambridge-based firm. “The user then hears via a fusion of airborne sound and soft tissue conduction into the inner ear. Where glasses are not needed, the platform can also be used to produce other types of headset.”
Associated patent grants and “encompass techniques for delivering multi-octave audio from a vibrating beam of miniaturised dimensions, and the methodology for matching the mechanical impedance of ceramic materials to the soft tissues of the human ear”, said HiWave.
The firm, which is also a fabless audio chip producer, will be developing semiconductors that combine audio signal processing, amplifiers, and the high-voltage drivers needed for piezoelectric transducers.
In the proof-of-concept demonstrator, the Farina ceramic vibrating beam measures 25x3x0.6mm. Production-ready transducers will be available in Q4.
“The goal for our customers will be to create eyewear that incorporates miniaturised display and audio components, and are completely wireless,” said HiWave CEO James Lewis. “The mini-transducers will be embedded into the arms of the glasses where they touch the ears, and the amplifier circuitry will be a single chip that, together with the Bluetooth or other wireless chip will disappear into the frame. Our low-power techniques minimise the battery size so that this to can become an integral part of the frame.”