New technology could turn your shirt into a speaker
20th Nov 2008 | 11:32
Scientists develop thin and flexible material
It's long been accepted that decent-sounding speakers have to be reasonably large and weighty, but Chinese scientists might have created a material that could enable the creation of high-quality speakers that are as thin and flexible as you need them to be.
This is based on carbon nanotube films - the scientists explain that, "once fed by sound frequency electric currents, these could emit loud sounds".
"This phenomenon could be attributed to a thermoacoustic effect," they say. "The ultra small heat capacity per unit area of carbon nanotube thin films leads to a wide frequency response range and a high sound pressure level."
In practical terms, this means that you could use the technology to put speakers in almost anything: clothes, wallpaper or – as you can see in this video demonstration – a flag.
The material is stretchable and doesn't contain any mechanical parts, so designers could have a field day.
What we don't know, of course, is how good speakers based on the technology could actually sound. The audio quality in the video isn't exactly great, so it might be a while yet before you can turn up to a gig and hang your roll-up PA on the wall.