Thursday, 02 Apr, 2009 Technology

Latest invention: Flat Flexible Speakers that Produce a Clear Sound


A loudspeaker, which is less than 0.25mm thick, is the latest invention in technology presented by engineers from University of Warwick. The device is flexible and can be easily hung up a wall in an apartment or, due to its specific technique of producing sound, it can be used as a way of making clear public announcements in different places, such as, for example passenger terminals.

Besides being extremely lightweight, this latest technological invention does not require huge investments. Slim and flexible, such speakers can be installed in ceiling tiles or inside vehicles.

Warwick Audio Technologies, is a spin-out company that says its device generates planar directional sound waves in public places. These waves project further than sound produced by usual speakers. Engineers dubbed their latest invention Flat, Flexible Loudspeaker (FFL).

According to the company's CEO, Steve Couchman, the revolutionary speaker could completely replace the conventional speakers that are nowadays used in homes, cars and public places such as passenger terminals and shopping centers.

"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," he said.

The flexible speaker works by transforming an electric signal into sound. In conventional speakers the signal is used to produce a varying magnetic field that vibrates a mechanical cone, thus making the sound. However, the technology behind the flexible speaker connects thin, conducting and insulating, materials that create a flexible laminate. When an electrical signal excites the laminate, it vibrates, so generating sound.

Commenting on the use of the company's latest invention, Mr. Couchman said: "The sound produced by FFLs can be directed straight at its intended audience." He mentioned that the sound is not distorted like in the case of conventional speakers, making the announcement in public places more comprehensible, reported

Dr Duncan Billson and Professor David Hutchins created the Flat, Flexible Loudspeaker. Both graduated the University of Warwick. In their early tests they used two sheets of tinfoil along with an insulating layer of baking paper to generate sound. Now the device features a new design and was developed using improved technologies, making it a perfect commercial product.

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