Now, flat, flexible speakers to revolutionise loudspeakers in public spaces

April 2nd, 2009 - 1:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 2 (ANI): Public announcements in passenger terminals could now be clearer, crisper, and easier to hear-thanks to a new ‘Flat, Flexible Loudspeaker’ (FFL) developed by University of Warwick engineers.

Pioneered by University of Warwick spinout company Warwick Audio Technologies, the groundbreaking new loud speakers are less than 0.25mm thick, and could even be hung on a wall like a picture.

The slim and flexible speakers are not only lightweight and inexpensive to manufacture, but could also be concealed inside ceiling tiles or car interiors.

FFLs are ideal for public spaces where they deliver planar directional sound waves, which project further than sound from conventional speakers.

According to Steve Couchman, CEO of Warwick Audio Technologies, the speakers 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.

“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,” he said.

He added: “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.”

Conventional speakers work by converting an electric signal into sound, but the new FFL technology is a carefully designed assembly of thin, conducting and insulating materials.

The use of these materials results 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, thus the entire diaphragm 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.

Couchman said: “Another great application would be in PA systems for public spaces. 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.”

Initially designed using just two sheets of tinfoil and an insulating layer of baking paper to produce sound, the FFL has since evolved and the technology is now ready for commercial exploitation. (ANI)

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