New Flexible Fabric Speakers

Both the idog and iPod can play together on your desk without messy clean-up.

A Korean research firm has announced that it has developed a technology for the mass production of sound speakers that are as flexible as fabric. "This product will cause revolutionary changes in how speakers will look in the future," said Koh Seok-geun, president of PNI. "It took four years of studies after we initially developed the technology to make it available for mass production."

The speakers are made with a kind of plastic that is studded with electrodes; PNI researchers used plasma on the electrodes to get them to stick to the plastic, solving an essential problem. Just cut out any size piece of the fabric and attach it to an amplifier with a wire - drape your new speaker over an object, hang them like curtains, or put them in a picture frame. You could even make a cheap suit coat for hawking your wares at trade shows.

This could provide the essential ingredient that is missing in talking tape, from the novel Distraction by science fiction writer Bruce Sterling. He wrote about how talking tape, one of my favorite pieces of technovelgy, could help construct a building:

Oscar peeled a strip of tape from a yellow spool and wrapped the tape around a cinder block. He swept a hand-scanner over the block, activating the tape... "I'm a cornerstone," the cinder block announced. "Good for you," Oscar grunted. (Read more about talking tape is used to construct a Bambakias hotel)

However, Pimp My Ride enthusiasts should note that this miracle fabric speaker cannot be installed on the back seats of your hoopty for awesome bass sound. The speakers can only support sounds in the upper end of the register; it cannot emit the bass sound you need.

If you are interested in flexible speakers, you might also be interested in the real-life hypersonic sound speaker that does for sound what the laser did for light. Also, if you will now be bombarded with sound from curtains and suit coats, you might be more interested in science-fictional devices like sf Grandmaster Robert Heinlein's hush corner. Or, read more at Scientists create flat speakers.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.)

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Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.