New flat flexible speakers might even help you catch planes and trains

Apr 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A groundbreaking new loudspeaker, less than 0.25mm thick, has been developed by University of Warwick engineers, it's flat, flexible, could be hung on a wall like a picture, and its particular method of sound generation could make public announcements in places like passenger terminals clearer, crisper, and easier to hear.

Lightweight and inexpensive to manufacture, the speakers are slim and flexible: they could be concealed inside ceiling tiles or car interiors, or printed with a design and hung on the wall like a picture.

Pioneered by University of Warwick spin-out company, Warwick Audio Technologies' the 'Flat, Flexible Loudspeaker' (FFL) is ideal for public spaces where it delivers planar directional , which project further than sound from conventional speakers.

Steve Couchman, CEO of Warwick Audio Technologies, believes it could entirely replace the speakers currently used in homes and in cars, as well as in public address systems used in passenger terminals and shopping centres.

He says: "We believe this is a truly innovative technology. Its size and flexibility means it can be used in all sorts of areas where space is at a premium. Audio visual companies are investigating its use as point of sale posters for smart audio messaging and car manufacturers are particularly interested in it for its light weight and thinness, which means it can be incorporated into the headlining of cars, rather than lower down in the interior."

All speakers work by converting an electric signal into sound. Usually, the signal is used to generate a varying , which in turn vibrates a mechanical cone, so producing the sound.

Warwick Audio Technology's FFL technology is a carefully designed assembly of thin, conducting and insulating, materials resulting in the development of a flexible laminate, which when excited by an electrical signal will vibrate and produce sound.

The speaker laminate operates as a perfect piston resonator. The entire diaphragm therefore radiates in phase, forming an area source. The wave front emitted by the vibrating surface is phase coherent, producing a plane wave with very high directivity and very accurate sound imaging.

"Another great application would be in PA systems for public spaces," says Steve. "The sound produced by FFLs can be directed straight at its intended audience. The sound volume and quality does not deteriorate as it does in conventional speakers, which means that public announcements in passenger terminals, for example, could be clearer, crisper, and easier to hear."

The FFL was first developed by Dr Duncan Billson and Professor David Hutchins, both from the University of Warwick, with early trials using just two sheets of tinfoil and an insulating layer of baking paper to produce sound. Since then its design has significantly evolved and the technology is now ready for commercial exploitation

The company is currently in negotiations with a number of commercial partners and continues to welcome fresh approaches. It expects to launch its first commercial product later this year.

Provided by University of Warwick

Explore further: California quake points to research advancements in retrofitting older buildings

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Car Buyers Say Silence Isn't Golden

Jul 12, 2005

The technology improvements that are giving us ever quieter cars are not proving popular with many car drivers. Car manufacturers now want to restore to the inside of a car the sounds their customers want ...

Surround sound via headphones

Sep 06, 2005

Music fans will soon be able to enjoy high-quality surround sound even when traveling: Ensonido creates an illusion of several loudspeakers for the ears wearing stereo headphones. The software measures the ...

Recommended for you

Greater safety and security at Europe's train stations

Sep 01, 2014

When a suspicious individual fleas on a bus or by train, then things usually get tough for the police. This is because the security systems of the various transportation companies and security services are ...

Fingerprints for freight items

Sep 01, 2014

Security is a top priority in air freight logistics but screening procedures can be very time consuming and costly. Fraunhofer researchers intend to boost efficiency with a new approach to digital logistics, ...

On the way to a safe and secure smart home

Sep 01, 2014

A growing number of household operations can be managed via the Internet. Today's "Smart Home" promises efficient building management. But often the systems are not secure and can only be retrofitted at great ...

DIY glove-based tutor indicates muscle-memory potential

Aug 31, 2014

A senior editor at IEEE Spectrum worked on a DIY project that enabled his 11-year-old son to improve his touch typing by use of a vibrating glove. His son was already "pretty quick on the keyboard," said ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

poi
4 / 5 (1) Apr 02, 2009
and surround sound could have an all new meaning!
no more need for 8.1 or something!
synchronized and programmed with 3D movies and... wow... hearing where you're seeing... wow...

[however, how cheap is cheap?]
Lightweight and inexpensive to manufacture...

[oh, sorry. it stopped at "inexpensive to manufacture." deniability. didn't say inexpensive at point of sale. too bad. back to 8.1 i guess.]
DGBEACH
not rated yet Apr 02, 2009
and surround sound could have an all new meaning!
no more need for 8.1 or something!

It would only need to be 1.1, or if possible 1.0...they don't say what the bandwidth is on this device.
no1enter
not rated yet Apr 13, 2009
Hmmm. Sounds allot like what the carbon nanotube speakers do...