A whole new dimension in speaker technology

FleXpeaker is so thin you could almost wear it

Earlier this week the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), located in Taiwan, introduced its “next-big-thing” product—a nearly paper-thin speaker. The FleXpeaker is less than 0.04 inches thick, which is about as thin as 10 pieces of regular copy paper, and can come in sizes ranging from tiny to 100 inches by 20 inches (so far). And you can bend it, which I guess is why they picked its name.

The potential applications are staggering. Sure, it could help make MP3 products and flat-screen televisions even thinner, make notebooks and personal digital assistants lighter, and all that jazz. But what is really exciting is the idea of applications such as talking billboards, wallpapering your room in speaker, or even wearing loud clothes—literally. Now that is what technological advances are for!

If you would like to see the FleXpeaker in action for yourself, check out this YouTube video. I warn you though, it is only about 15 seconds long and is quite possibly the most boring presentation of a really cool technology ever.

As if a nearly-paper-thin speaker wasn’t enough, ITRI is even now working on more awesome derivations of this technology, such as a speaker that is just as thin, but also transparent. That’s right, a see-through speaker. Tell me that isn’t awesome!

The FleXpeaker may actually end up in some products by the end of this year, and they should be directly available to consumers sometime next year. The transparent model will take longer.

I am actually sort of excited about the FleXpeaker. It’s not often that a piece of technology feels like science fiction. In the Lab we can become a bit jaded about new technologies, but this is a truly exciting idea. The future is now, or at least soon.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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