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EAR PROTECTION CONTROL IC

The IC development for Dynamic Ear Company (DEC) is an example of an integration project for SME and covers most aspects of a SystematIC turnkey solution.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Our customer DEC develops and produces Dynamic Sound technology products which can typically be used as stand-alone hearing protection or embedded in headphone systems, hearing aids and hearables. DEC was the first to market linear universal fit hearing protection in 2011 which is used in industrial, music, shooting and leisure activities.
The IC we designed for DEC was an example of an integration project for SME and covers most aspects of a SystematIC turnkey solution. Our contribution extends from system study to possible implementation, manufacturability and testability for ears from zeroing in on the IC process to IC design and layout and the production preparation.

CHALLENGE

The system consists of an electronic circuit with a microphone input, a signal processing algorithm, a control circuit, high-voltage (30V) driver for an off-chip actuator. The actuator mechanically closes the ear channel partially or completely depending on the sound pressure. The vision for the product was present, but the algorithm had the format of a simple mathematical model. We converted this idea into a high-level system model. As a proof of concept, we designed discrete electronic circuits on a PCB and included the algorithm applying components that can also be used in an IC process. With the first hardware DEC verified electronics in real-time and enabled further improvement of the algorithm. An IC process was proposed and selected considering commercial as well as technical requirements. An integration trajectory was started and solutions for the signal processing blocks the IC process were designed on transistor level. The circuits were thoroughly simulated and a complete IC layout was made. We then proceeded to support the actual prototype fabrication and assisted with the measurement and evaluation of the first silicon in order to realize a functional product best suited for the application and ready for mass production.

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DYNAMIC-EAR-COMPANY-LOGO-SMALL

DEC develops products to protect the human ear against high sound pressure. The system consists of an electronic circuit with a microphone input, a signal processing algorithm, a high-voltage driver and an actuator. The actuator mechanically closes the ear channel. Because the product is an in-ear application, miniaturization of the electronics is mandatory, and integration of the electronics is a requirement.

TIME

In 4 weeks we've developed a discrete prototype demo for the customer to evaluate functionality.

WE ARE PROUD

  • Design of the first discrete electronics circuits on the PCB on the basis of a loosely defined control algorithm was a challenge. This however was of great importance as this allowed simulation of the audible effects of the algorithm on recorded sound fragments and helped to further improve the algorithm. Contact with DEC early on the design phase and collaborative spirit of the teams helped to overcome the challenge.
  • Because the product is to be placed in the ear, miniaturization through integration of the electronics on IC die was imperative. This was well taken into account from the feasibility phase. The proof of concept PCB was made applying electronic circuit solutions that can also be used in an IC process.
  • The complex electronics system could be developed thanks to the systematic approach.
  • Achieving low power operation to extend battery life.
  • Successfully incorporating the high-voltage (30V) driver, minimizing the external component count

BENEFITS FOR DYNAMIC EAR COMPANY

The clever realization of the proof of concept with a PCB gave the customer opportunity to test and improve the control algorithm and consequently fully functional silicon could be achieved in the first IC integration. This not only bore great cost benefits but also resulted in huge time gain in prototyping phase.

✓ From the conception up to the manufacturing of prototype we acted as a semiconductor partner to the customer; this holistic approach taken by us spared them from worry while they could stay focused to their core expertise.

"I know that we can rely on SystematIC to deliver what they say, when they say and to provide helpful advice that makes a meaningful difference to our business."

-Senior SoC Architect

WATCH A VIDEO FROM THE CLIENT

SystematIC converted this idea into a high-level system model which allowed simulation of the audible effects of the algorithm on recoded sound fragments and this helped to improve the algorithm.

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