We use speakers nearly every day. From listening to music while studying, to watching videos on a phone, to listening to an instructor on a zoom call, speakers are a common part of college students’ lives. This common technology can be seen in many places. Speakers are in our phones and laptops, we connect to BlueTooth speakers in our rooms to enjoy our favorite songs, but even something as ubiquitous as a speaker can be revolutionized.
A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been working on a new kind of speaker. The engineers are developing a speaker that is thinner and more energy-efficient than a traditional loudspeaker.
Regular loudspeakers make sound by using electricity to move a membrane that moves the air to create sound waves.
The MIT engineers took this concept and turned it into a new and improved technology. The devices the team has developed work similarly to traditional thin-film loudspeakers, but where traditional speakers need to be thoughtfully mounted so the membrane will work, these new speakers are made with small domes of membrane rather than a large one. Since the individual domes vibrate to create sound, the speaker can be mounted to pretty much any surface and avoid a lower performance. The small domes also take less energy to vibrate, so the new speakers need less power to operate.
Not only have these speakers overcome mounting issues and improved power consumption, but they also have the potential to be produced in large quantities.
Imagine walking into a theater and sitting down for a movie in the future. Instead of coming from bulky speakers spread throughout the room, the movie’s audio could come in true surround sound from massive speakers covering the walls like wallpaper. Or imagine riding with your friends in your car and your favorite song emanates from all around you. The future of speakers could be very sleek.