Flat Flexible Loudspeakers To Be Heard But Not Seen
With all the recent focus on developing the slimmest television on the market, it's surprising that we haven't seen a rush of other slim innovations. These Flat, Flexible Loudspeakers designed by Warwick Audio Technologies, a company born from work done at the University of Warwick, are an exciting new technology in this very category. Just a quarter of a millimeter thick, these speakers could easily mount and blend in nearly anywhere. Instead of big, cumbersome boxes, you could mount these visually-appealing speakers on your wall or ceiling and barely even notice they're there. Since they bend easily, they could adapt to whatever space they're being installed in. Warwick even suggests the possibility of printing the speakers so they look like artwork.
Unlike the average stereo speaker that uses a series of vibrating electromagnetic drivers to produce sound, these innovative speakers operate using a carefully-constructed flexible laminate composed of a series of conducting and insulating materials. The laminate vibrates when an electrical audio signal is introduced and the speakers create a planar directional sound wave based on the audio signal. The wave is stronger and carries further than the average speaker sound wave. This could make them particularly useful in public places where announcements and other audio could travel farther without diminishing.
While a variety of potential uses have been cited for these speakers, from car audio to home entertainment to professional applications, there's no word as to exactly when or where we might see these Flat Flexible Loudspeakers. However, Warwick does mention that it's in negotiation with a number of commercial partners and states they should make their first appearance by the end of the year. Warwick also says that the technology is inexpensive to manufacture. When it comes to high-tech audio, expense is relative, so that statement must be taken with a grain of salt.
While researchers expound upon the accurate sound and imaging that these speakers will reproduce, it's difficult to imagine them replacing a large pair of bass reflex boxes. I would love to see how a couple of these babies hanging on my wall would belt out some Metallica. It's hard to imagine they'd compete with monster boxes, but it's certainly hopeful for any audio lover who doesn't have the room for giant speakers.
In the future, you may be unrolling and cutting your speakers to size in addition to your spool of speaker cable.