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Flat Flexible Loudspeakers From Warwick Audio

Flat Flexible Loudspeakers (FFL) are being developed for the market by Warwick Audio., a UK-based company using technology developed at The University of Warwick, School of Engineering.


(Flat Flexible Loudspeaker)

Ultra-thin and lightweight speakers lend themselves to easy and convenient mounting positions on walls and ceilings. The speakers are easy to conceal or if you prefer they can be printed with any image, neatly featuring the speaker in your room. Using FFL means audio is simple to install and secure from unauthorised removal.

Sound pressure levels are of 80-105dB are achieved. Actual SPL depends upon the area of the laminate selected. Laminates are offered in a variety of areas between the standard European paper sizes A5 through to A3.


(FFL speaker membrane)

All speakers operate on the principle an electrical signal is converted into sound using a mechanical device. A conventional cone speaker takes the electrical signal, which in turn generates a varying magnetic field, in turn vibrating a mechanical cone, so producing the sound. All these energy conversions lead to a very inefficient speaker.

FFL technology produces sound using a far more efficient process. We directly apply the electrical signal to the laminate, which vibrates in time with the electrical signal. The laminate is composed of two conducting surfaces, called Membranes, separated by an insulating layer. Hence an electric field (rather than a magnetic field) forms over the laminate.

This technology may bring us a variety of (until now) science-fictional ideas. I always liked talking tape from Bruce Sterling's 1998 novel Distraction. Sterling wrote about how it 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)

In his 1982 novel Diplomat at Arms, Keith Laumer refers to a command microphone and loudspeaker that is implemented in a uniform cape.

In his 1961 short story do-it-yourself, Harlan Ellison wrote about a talking pamphlet:

"Dear Purchaser, you are perplexing me," the pamphlet cried. "If you wish to carry forward smartly to the objective for which this Kit was designed, please do not strain my conversational and analytical faculties."
(Read more about Ellison's talking pamphlet)

Philip K. Dick would need something like FFL to implement his battery-powered 3D comic book (The Zap Gun, 1965) as well as the memo-voice (War Game, 1959):

"Good morning," the first memo said in its tinny, chattery voice, as Wiseman ran his thumb along the line of pasted tape.

I'd also like to point out that Dick is correct in saying that the FFL strip will have a "tinny" sound - where will you get base response from a device this thin?

Find out more at the Warwick Audio company website; via Dvice.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/2/2009)

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