Wearable Electronic Science – stretchable, flexible, foldable speaker

CNT_speaker_flag.jpgOne of the big challenges in wearable electronic: speaker which can be fully and seamless integrated into clothing transforming a T-Shirt into a speaker system.

NXT‘s surface mount system is so far the closest solution but still it requires some bulky sound engine called ‘exciter’ to transform semi stiff EVA into s sound emitting surface.

A group of Chinese researchers at Beijing’s Tsinghua University set out to build the basis for speaker clothing as they discovered that, by zapping an audio-frequency current through a carbon nanotube thin film, it can be made into a wispy-thin high-performance loudspeaker that emits sound in a wide-frequency range and operates without moving parts or magnets.

Sounds like science fiction – right?! But according to the project publication in American Chemical Society‘s ‘Nano Letters‘ this technology is actually closer to reality as it sounds.

A fully working prototype can be seen and heard in a couple of amazing videos (scroll down to the bottom of the page) showing how stretchy and flexible this sound wonder material is.

The nanospeakers work based on the thermoacoustic effect. Alternating electrical current running through the thin films of nanotubes heats the surrounding air, causing it to expand and contract, creating sound waves.

If this technology is picked up by some industry heavyweights to develop the production processes a sound Jacket might be in the stores in 2-3 years. Not that bad as the clothing industry uses a 2 year time frame from first concept sketches until a collection hits the shelves.

Research and science shave the habit to be far off away from reality but the stretchy nano speakers sounds very solid.

[source: American Chemical Society]

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