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Engineers develop cheap flexible loudspeaker that's only 0.25mm thick

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April 6, 2009

Warwick Audio Technologies shows off the wafer-thin Flat Flexible Loudspeaker

Warwick Audio Technologies shows off the wafer-thin Flat Flexible Loudspeaker

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April 7, 2009 A loudspeaker that’s so flat and flexible it can be tacked to a wall just like a picture? That’s precisely what engineers at Warwick Audio Technologies in the UK have cooked up. The speaker – dubbed the Flat Flexible Loudspeaker (FFL) for obvious reasons – is less than 0.25mm and thin enough to be concealed inside office ceiling tiles, cars or printed with a design and attached to any flat surface, like a wall.

What the super-slim FFL lacks in girth, though, is amply compensated by a method of sound generation that can project a clearer, crisper sound further than conventional speakers. By delivering planar directional sound waves, the loudspeaker doesn’t experience the deterioration in sound quality or volume that occurs with conventional speakers – about 6 decibels each time you double your distance from the driver.

Instead audio is heard at close to the same level whether you’re standing a meter or 10 meters away. This makes the FFL ideal anywhere public address systems are used, such as airports, train stations and shopping centers. The loudspeaker is not only well suited to large public areas. Lightweight and inexpensive to manufacture, the FFL can be used wherever space is at a premium, including the home and car.

“Audio-visual companies are investigating its use as point-of-sale posters for smart audio messaging,” says Steve Couchman, CEO of Warwick Audio Technologies. “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.”

Warwick Audio Technology’s design has come some way since its early trials involving sheets of tinfoil and baking paper. The flexible speaker laminate now is an assembly of thin conducting and insulating materials that vibrate, when excited by an electrical signal, producing sound. While it adopts the same basic principles of all speakers, the FFL is distinctive in that its entire surface area radiates in phase, producing a plane sound wave with high directivity and accurate sound imaging.

The company, which is linked to the University of Warwick, is still in talks with a number of potential commercial partners and hopes to launch its first product later in the year.

Paul Best

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3 Comments

Think of the endless possible applications !!

I believe this can be used underwater as well. Laptops could play music trough their screens and discos could have these coated across their walls. Given that they are cheap.

Sougata Pahari
7th April, 2009 @ 05:34 pm PDT

This is just mental!... loudspeaker with louder, better and crisper sound, and only 0.25 mm think... plus cheap to manufacture... "thats just tomorrow today!!!"

I can already see what else it could be used for!.

For several years I have thought the ideal versability in living, is having a japanese style room divider set-up in the home/office. Of where these can be incorporated as the screening sheet material (replacing hardboard/glass/MDF, etc) in the frame.

This speaker material will not only make the dividing folding doors lighter, but you could have a circuit that has a built in microphone, that then anti-phases the received sound signal (noice received is offset by 180 degree's), of which when played through these speakers, creates an opposite sound wave. This will result in producing a real-time noice cancelling device, for the adjacent connected room. In theory, similar to noice cancelling headphones, but, much bigger in application!.

Just imagine, you could have acustic damping, and the opposite of sound incorporated in one single device. Apply the technology to cinema's, homes, offices, conferance rooms, sports caps with built in communication, laptops, computer/mobile touch screens that resonate when you touch an icon or touch type an artificial keyboard, the list is endless... and my kettle has just boiled!

This is just so so massive!

Welldone to all involved.

Harpal Sahota.

Harpal Sahota
3rd September, 2010 @ 09:38 am PDT

(Quote:Harpal Sahota) Now Imagine the application (off noice-cancelling device theory) on music recording studios...

Paulo Mesa
29th January, 2011 @ 01:12 am PST
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