PORTLAND, Ore. MEMS microphone pioneer Akustica Inc. has been acquired by Robert Bosch North America and will become part of its MEMS division, Bosch Sensortec GmbH (Reutlingen, Germany).
All of Pittsburgh-based Akustica's employees will be hired by Bosch, and the new company will continue to operate as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary at Akustica's U.S. headquarters. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"This is good for both companies; together we will be addressing the two largest market segments of the consumer MEMS market--accelerometers will be Bosch Sensortec's side and microphones from Akustica," said Davin Yuknis, vice president of marketing at Akustica. "Those are the two fastest growing segments of the MEMS market in the consumer electronics" segment.
The companies claim that the MEMS market will reach $2.5 billion worldwide by 2012, and that the microphone market is fastest growing segment at annual rate of greater than 30 percent, which they say is on track to ship a billion units by 2012.
Earlier this month, Akustica's founder, chairman and CTO, Kaigham ("Ken") Gabriel, was appointed deputy director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).
"Our discussions with Bosch were ongoing when Gabriel decided to accept Darpa's offer," said Yuknis. "But I think his decision had mostly to do with Darpa offer--remember Gabriel is not going back to his old job at Darpa, but will now be second in command."
Gabriel reports to new Darpa Director Regina Dugan, and in his new job will oversee all research, development and demonstration of concepts, devices, and systems for the military. He was director of Darpa's Electronics Technology Office when he left in 1998 to join the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University, where he developed CMOS-based microphones using MEMS technologies. The work was eventually spun off to form Akustica in 2001.
Akustica has since developed MEMS microphones and has sold over 5 million CMOS microphones for consumer devices like PCs and cell phones. Although several other MEMS microphone makers have entered the market, Akustica is so far the only company that integrates both the mechanical microphone and its supporting analog and digital circuitry onto the same CMOS chip.