A team of researchers at MIT’s Organic and Nanostructured Electronics Lab (ONE Lab) has come up with a one-of-a-kind, paper-thin speaker system that has the potential to enable Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) for an entire room. Yeah, you read that right! The new speakers come in the form of a sheet, which is as thin as paper and “weighs about as much as a dime” but can produce high-quality audio when attached to a surface. Check out the details below to learn more about this interesting invention!
MIT Researchers Develop Paper-Thin Speakers
The team of MIT engineers recently took to an official blog post to announce their new paper-thin loudspeaker. It is a thin-film loudspeaker that can attach to a surface to turn it into an active audio source. According to the researchers, the new paper-thin speaker offers minimal sound distortion while consuming much less power than a traditional loudspeaker.
To develop the unique product, MIT engineers took a new approach to the concept of loudspeakers. Unlike a traditional one, these paper-thin loudspeaker uses a shaped piezoelectric material that moves when voltage is applied to it. In turn, it moves the air above it to generate the audio.
Moreover, thin-film speaker systems like this one are designed to be freestanding to enable the film to bend freely to produce sounds. Hence, one cannot mount these speakers onto a surface as it prevents the units to vibrate, which in turn, degrades their ability to produce accurate sounds.
To solve this issue, the engineers “rethought” the design, and instead of making the entire material vibrate, they came up with a design that relied on tiny domes, each of which can vibrate individually, on the thin piezoelectric material. To protect these domes from abrasion and wear-and-tear for daily use, the researchers put spacer layers at the top and the bottom of the thin sheet.
Now, coming to the applications of the new paper-thin loudspeaker, the researchers say that they can be used to enable Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) in a chaotic room like, for example, an airplane cockpit. These speakers can be mounted on the cockpit walls and generate opposite-frequency sounds, much like how ANC-supported TWS earbuds work, to cancel out the environmental noise.
The researchers also suggest that as the paper-thin loudspeakers have very low power consumption, they can fill theaters or entertainment-focused theme park rides to deliver 3D spatial audio for a more immersive experience than ever. Moreover, as the power consumption is very low, the speakers can also be used in smart devices with limited battery life.
Now, although the idea sounds promising, there is no information on whether the paper-thin loudspeaker would enter mass production or not. Perhaps, we can hope that the unique loudspeaker could fill your future living room to deliver an immersive experience. What do you think about the idea of ANC for an entire room? Wouldn’t that be exciting? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.