Fascinated by the way that animals have evolved to hear sound, Ron Miles, a professor at the University of Binghamton, spent years studying how nature’s best auditory systems have evolved to hear. Historically, we have taken principles of human hearing to inspire the design of microphones. However, when trying to miniaturize microphones into extremely small form factors, such as those found in our consumer devices, why not take a look at how the small auditory systems in nature work? Insects, in particular, are very small yet have evolved to sense where sound comes from with incredible accuracy. And they do so using different principles than the human ear. This was the concept that started Professor Miles down the path of building a directional microphone that could both be very small and very sensitive, and eventually led to research into one of the world’s tiniest creatures: the spider.
As a professor at Binghamton University, Ron Miles was introduced to Professor Ron Hoy, a researcher at Cornell University. Professor Hoy had found that even though spiders don’t have traditional ears, they were able to sense sound through the hairs on their legs and even their spider webs. Intrigued by these tiny sensing mechanisms that seemed to move very well with the surrounding motion of air, Professor Miles along with PhD student Jian Zhou studied the acoustic properties of spider silk. It turns out that rather than responding to the sound pressure like the much larger human ear, these “sensors” responded directly to the motion and flow of air around them. This was the concept that inspired Ron and Jian to create directional microphone designs with incredible performance.
Soundskrit was founded at the startup incubator TandemLaunch bringing together a love for audio and new technology. The three initial founders connected with Professor Ron Miles of Binghamton University and were introduced to a new perspective on MEMS microphones, one grounded in over 30 years of research. Rather than use arrays of non-directional microphones to try and get directionality, why not build the directionality into the hardware itself? These new MEMS microphones were inspired by the spider, which utilized its hairs and webs to hear. In fact, the very first prototype microphone actually used a spider web as the sensing diaphragm!
Our technology and company have moved well beyond those early days, though our love for taking inspiration from nature still persists. Today, Soundskrit has significantly miniaturized the first prototype without sacrificing any capabilities to create the highest performance MEMS directional microphone on the market. But while the Soundskrit microphone has shrunk, the team has grown, with offices in both Canada and the United States and a multitude of team members from diverse backgrounds. Our team works tirelessly to create the best MEMS microphone in the industry and change the way audio is captured in our everyday devices. We are so excited to share our progress with you.