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Researchers at MIT have developed ultra-thin speakers that can be mounted on virtually any surface. The speakers, which are currently the size of the palm of your hand, weigh only a few grams and can be attached directly to a wall much like a poster or wallpaper.
The speakers can of course be used as ordinary speakers and a cinema could, for example, have speakers that cover walls and ceilings. But researchers also have other ideas about how the speakers can be used.
A possible area of use is as sound-absorbing material. It would be possible to dress the inside of a car, an airplane, or a room with the speakers and connect them to an active noise reduction system. It would then provide a tranquil atmosphere in an otherwise very noisy environment.
Another advantage of the speakers is that they draw very little power. They only need 100 milliwatts per square meter of speakers. The corresponding figure for standard speakers in our homes is generally around one watt.
A bonus is that the speakers can generate ultrasound. For example, it could be used to locate where in the room there are people and then let the sound follow them around as they move.
The production process itself is not very complicated, and the researchers will now go further and see how they can get production on an industrial scale. They also want to make the speakers so large that a speaker can cover an entire wall.