A startup called Soundlazer claims to have developed the world’s thinnest speaker, made from a new class of plastic polymer. With the ability to reproduce a large range of audio frequencies, the company says it can be used to deliver audio in tight or unique spaces.
The polymer, called polyvinylidene Fluoride Piezoelectric Film (PVDF), forms a thin plastic sheet with its molecules aligned in a uniform pattern, which is covered by an electrically conductive coating deposited on each side. To use PVDF material, Soundlazer says an electrical connection to these conductive coatings is needed. However, soldering directly to the film is not possible because the heat would destroy the underlying plastic PVDF material. To overcome this limitation, the company printed a conductive layer of ink around the edge of each side of the speaker film.
Soundlazer says the new film has an output potential about 10 times greater than ceramic materials traditionally used in speakers. Since the material is a thin, lightweight, flexible film it can be glued onto shaped designs. The material also has a high mechanical strength and is impact resistant.
The startup worked with its manufacturers to help make the tech more affordable, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to scale up production. As of this writing, Soundlazer has raised nearly $23,000 towards its rather specific $73,500 goal, with more than a month to go.
The sustainability potential of this breakthrough is apparent; fewer materials means reduced energy inputs in production, and less waste when the product reaches end-of-life. It's yet to be seen if the invention can be successfully scaled.
Imagine powering these speakers with another technology that extends the life of traditional AA batteries. Late last year, a startup called BatteryVampire launched a Kickstarter campaign of its own to fund a technology that brings renewed life to AA batteries by tapping into the small energy reservoir that remain after they are “dead.” Although the campaign was unsuccessful, the concept still holds much potential.