Chirp Microsystems: Bringing MEMS Ultrasonic Sensing to Everyday Products
Michelle Kiang, PhD
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Chirp Microsystems, Inc.
Founded five years ago as a venture-backed startup, Chirp Microsystems is pioneering a new class of ultrasonic time-of-flight sensors combining a tiny MEMS ultrasonic transducer chip with a custom ultrasound ASIC in a small package fit for consumer electronics. Earlier this year, Chirp was acquired by Japan’s TDK Corporation, joining MEMS heavyweights InvenSense and EPCOS as part of TDK’s Sensor System Business Company. In this talk, I will share the successes, challenges, and risks that we faced in founding Chirp and bringing our novel MEMS technology to market. While ultrasonic sensors are widely used in automotive, industrial, and robotics applications, they are rarely used in consumer electronics because conventional ultrasonic transducers are too big and too power hungry. Recognizing this fact, the co-founders of Chirp devised the first commercial ultrasonic range-finder based on a micromachined ultrasonic transducer (MUT). Starting from this simple idea, we built a team, raised venture funds, and drew on a network of powerhouse MEMS manufacturers to create a tier-one supply-chain. Our story is a story of the MEMS Industry in 2018.