Scientists Build Ultrathin Speakers That Look Suspiciously Like Tin Foil

Call it an April Fool's hangover, but when I saw the tinfoil that the serious looking men from Warwick Audio were waving around to promote their new "flat flexible loudspeaker," I still needed convincing.

Both BBC News and the science publication PhysOrg had takes on this, and the company itself has a website that appears to be legit, or at least not funny enough to be a joke. Still, the only "product" we see in multiple images is an unmistakable sheet of tin foil. OK, supposing I bite, here's the scientific description, from PhysOrg:

FFL technology is a carefully designed assembly of thin, conducting and insulating, materials resulting in the development of a flexible laminate, which when excited by an electrical signal will vibrate and produce sound.

The speaker laminate operates as a perfect piston resonator. The entire diaphragm therefore radiates in phase, forming an area source. The wave front emitted by the vibrating surface is phase coherent, producing a plane wave with very high directivity and very accurate sound imaging.

To me, this means that it vibrates like a traditional speaker, but only in the tighter wavelengths. (It does not behave like some new speaker technologies do, by producing electrical charges that excite nearby air molecules, thereby making sound without vibrating.)

So how can this thing create deep bass? Admittedly, the company site only promotes the technology for use in cars and conference rooms, presumably as some kind of teleconferencing system.

It's really really hard not to just call BS on this, especially with those hilariously serious pictures. Anyhow, stay tuned, because if they ever release something that looks like actual hardware, I'll be sure to write more about it. [PhysOrg and BBCNews via DVice]

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