Next Gen Smartphones Driving Noise Cancellation Market

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Next generation smartphones such as Google’s Nexus One and the Motorola Droid, are boosting the noise cancellation market

The arrival of next generation smartphones such as Google Nexus One and Motorola Droid, as well as MP3 players and laptops, is helping global shipments of the electronics used in noise cancellation microphones.

According to researcher iSuppli, shipments of microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) microphones, which aid in active noise cancellation (ANC) technology, are now expected to reach 1.2 billion worldwide in 2013, up from iSuppli’s earlier forecast of 1.1 billion.

“ANC reduces or eliminates ambient noise, silencing background sounds that can make it hard to concentrate, sleep or listen to music or engage in cell phone conversations,” writes Jérémie Bouchaud, an analyst with iSuppli.

“ANC leverages recent progress made by audio CODEC companies like Audience or Wolfson Microelectroncs in dedicated noise-suppression integrated circuits (ICs),” Bouchaud continued. “ANC leverages MEMs microphones, which are preferred over traditional electret condense microphones (ECM) for that function.”

In 2009, Sony introduced an ANC headset featuring 99 percent noise cancellation, and at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, it introduced the first earbuds with noise cancellation.

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Additionally, teardowns of the Nexus One and the Droid by iSuppli have revealed two MEMs microphones in each smartphone, and Nokia recently introduced an ANC-equipped headset using 10 MEMs microphones, according to iSuppli.

In addition to improving call quality, the microphones can adjust voice volume and are ideal for enabling voice commands – a feature growing in popularity and also offered by the Apple iPhone 3GS.

Compared to ECMs, iSuppli writes, MEMs microphones also offer better performance in terms of “size, sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratio and suitability for use with digital signal processors.”

Recently, iSuppli has also found MEMs in MP3 players, including the newest iPod nano, and laptops. In the iPod, iSuppli reports, an ultra-thin MEMs microphone works to support the video camera.

In 2009, iSuppli reports that 367.5 million units of MEMs microphones shipped worldwide, and in 2010 that figure is expected to reach 521.3 million units.