Companies are continuously innovating to make technology smaller, and make audio quality better. Founded in 2014, the Graz-based startup USound has taken on both challenges. It has developed the smallest loudspeakers in the world, and has just raised €17.7 million to commercialise its smart speakers and audio products worldwide.
The investment round was led by the Austrian venture capital firm eQventure, along with the British-Austrian venture capitalist Hermann Hauser, who co-founded ARM. The startup currently employs 60 people at its offices in Graz, Vienna, San Francisco, and Shenzhen.
The startup’s smart digital micro speakers are based on innovative MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology that enables extreme miniaturisation, distinctive sound quality as well as high levels of energy efficiency. USound micro speakers are currently deployed in a vast array of applications, including smartphones, earbuds, audio modules for augmented reality and virtual reality glasses, consumer wearables, as well as 3D surround sound headphones for immersive gaming experiences.
The startup has worked with strong global partners like STMicroelectronics, Flex and AT&S to implement a strong semiconductor supply chain to meet the demands of its dynamic and high-volume market.
The inspiration behind USound’s technology is Euterpe – the muse of music, also referred to as the “giver of delight”. She is traditionally portrayed with a flute, panpipes and a laurel wreath, and is said to have invented wind instruments such as the aulos, the double flute. USound credits Euterpe with helping them to create their products: Ganymede, Megaclite and Taygete – so that users can enjoy clear and crisp audio.
USound CEO Ferruccio Bottoni said: “Our smart silicon micro speakers will impact many aspects of life. We have triggered a paradigm shift for the whole audio industry.”