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Acoustic Fiber Can Turn Fabrics into Mics, Speakers

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An acoustic fiber [top left to middle right] can help transform a fabric into a microphone and speaker.

THE piezoelectric acoustic fiber is embedded within a fabric consisting of a relatively soft cotton yarn, as well as a yarn roughly as stiff as Kevlar.

CREDIT: Fink Lab MIT/Elizabeth Meiklejohn RISD/Greg Hren

A team of multi-institutional scientists led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a single-fiber acoustic sensor that can transform fabrics into microphones and speakers.

The piezoelectric fiber is incorporated within a fabric formed from a relatively soft cotton yarn and a yarn about as rigid as Kevlar.

MIT's Yoel Fink said the fiber is clad within rubbery plastic,  which adds flexibility and wearability while also making it machine-washable and more sensitive to sound.

Experiments showed the fabric detected the angle of handclaps to within 1 degree at a distance of three meters (9.84 feet) off, suggesting it could help detect the directions of gunshots, "or help people with hearing aids focus on particular directions they want to hear," Fink explained.

The fiber also can function as an acoustic speaker when a voltage is applied.

From IEEE Spectrum
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