Funding kicks mass production of rugged piezoelectric microphones into high gear for voice-first applications, smartphones, hearables, IoT devices and connected cars
Vesper, developer of the world's most advanced piezoelectric sensors, today closed $23M in Series B funding, led by American Family Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on seed to growth stage rounds. Vesper also received investments from Accomplice, Amazon Alexa Fund, Baidu, Bose Ventures, Hyperplane, Sands Capital, Shure, Synaptics, ZZ Ventures and other undisclosed investors. The round brings Vesper's total funding to date to $40M.
The funding will enable the startup to scale the mass production of its microphones and support expanded research and development, hiring, international sales offices, as well as grow customer support.
"Vesper's ZeroPower Listening capabilities coupled with its ability to withstand water, dust, oil, and particulate contaminants enables uses that have never before been possible," said Katelyn Johnson, principal of American Family Ventures. "We are excited about Vesper's quest to transform our connected world, including IoT devices."
"Our vision is for Alexa to be everywhere, and that means devices need to be built with durable, high-quality components that stand up to the demands of many different environments, especially on-the-go scenarios that require better power efficiency," said Paul Bernard, director of the Amazon Alexa Fund. "Vesper has become further embedded in the Alexa community through its integrations with various development kits and integrated solutions for Amazon AVS, and this follow-on investment is a testament to their continued momentum."
The demand for MEMS microphones will reach over 5.6 billion units, with over $1.1 billion in revenue, in 2018, according to an Acoustic MEMS and Audio Solutions report from Yole Développement. To meet demand, Vesper has partnered with tier one manufacturing partners such as GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Unisem and TSMC that can scale to any volume.
"Vesper is bringing to the market a game-changing piezoelectric microphone technology that could enable new applications," said Guillaume Girardin, Division Director, Photonics, Sensing & Display, Yole Développement (Yole). "Vesper has attracted powerful investors including Amazon, Baidu and Bose. People are now expecting a ramp up in the production to fulfill market needs, especially in the smart speakers or wearable markets. Vesper has the technology to disrupt established MEMS microphone players and some sweet spots to run after."
Vesper MEMS microphones represent a radical shift from capacitive MEMS microphones. Vesper's piezoelectric design is waterproof, dustproof, particle-resistant and shockproof. From the kitchen to the beach, piezoelectric MEMS microphones make voice-interface devices practical in any environment. They are also ideally suited for far-field applications such as microphone arrays.
Vesper's best-selling product, VM1010 with ZeroPower Listening, is the first MEMS microphone to bring voice activation to battery-powered consumer devices while drawing nearly zero power.
For more information, visit www.vespermems.com.
Vesper is a privately held advanced sensor company based in Boston, Mass. With origins at the University of Michigan, Vesper's award-winning microphones are driving a new era of pervasive voice interfaces and acoustic event-detection products via a proprietary piezoelectric MEMS technology. For more information, visit www.vespermems.com, Twitter, YouTube, and the Vesper Blog.