A Japanese company called Tokai Rubber Industries has created what it’s claiming to be the world’s first all rubber speaker. But it’s not made from the exact same material as the tires on your car. This is a smart rubber that could one day lead to artificial muscle technology.
What makes this rubber so smart is its ability to conduct electricity, which in a speaker means that you can use it to produce sound. A layer of non-conductive rubber is sandwiched between two rubber electrodes, and when voltage is applied static electricity is generated which causes the speaker to contract, expand, and vibrate. You can also then apply that to chairs and other specialised products, turning them into speakers. But the real prize here is its application as artificial muscles, which could lead to robots that respond and move as quickly as humans. Or, you know, just play Mozart when they flex their muscles.