Scientists in the flexible electronic industry have long promised us products like rubbery circuits that will make portable devices truly unbreakable. So when UK researchers announced they had developed flexible speakers, the latest flexible electronic product to hit headlines, we listened. The ultra thin speakers—appropriately named the Flat, Flexible Loudspeaker (FFL) (pictured left)—is only 0.25mm thick.
The speakers are made of a flexible laminate material that can bend like paper and stick to uneven surfaces—a huge upgrade from the earliest model made primarily of tin foil.
Warwick Audio Technologies, the company commercializing the speakers, claims the newly minted FFLs can produce sounds at 80-105 decibels. The flat design allows sound to travel through the material differently than it does typical boom boxes. When an electrical signal goes through the FFL speakers, it vibrates and sends a rush of air through the whole sound system. So in technical speak, when the air moves through the sheets in bulk mass, planar directional sound waves are created. The resulting sounds are “clearer, crisper, and easier to hear” than traditional speakers.
Unfortunately, we will have to wait a year to see if the speakers actually reach stores—or if they join the other flexible electronic technologies like flexible laptops that have yet to make it into the market. Ahem, E-paper, where are you?
DISCOVER: Hardware As Soft As Rubber
Image: The University of Warwick