Ultra-thin speakers produce ultra-thin sound?

Engineers in the UK are developing a new speaker technology that will completely change the way we look at speakers. Flat, flexible loudspeakers, or FFL, were originally designed using tin foil and baking paper. Since then, it's been fine-tuned using layers of flexible laminates, but they're still about the size of a standard piece of paper.

FLL is similar to Electro-static speakers which have been around for years, but these are more efficient, smaller, lighter, and flexible. So, they can be used in advertising with audio posters, wrapped around corners, mounted in a car's ceiling, or hidden behind a painting. Where else would you put a flat, flexible speaker? I want a speaker sofa.

The developers plan to use the technology in large spaces — shopping malls, airport or train terminals, or anywhere that traditional public address systems are used. They claim it provides a more widespread pattern since it moves the entire air mass in front of the speaker instead of a pinpoint source from a traditional speaker cone, with less distortion.

Steve Couchman, CEO of Warwick Audio Technology, the company that plans to sell FLL speakers later this year said, "The sound produced by FFLs can be directed straight at its intended audience. The sound, volume and quality does not deteriorate as it does in conventional speakers which means that public announcements in passenger terminals could be clearer, crisper and easier to hear."

I can't imagine this technology has much bass response, so it's best reserved for more utilitarian applications. Originally designed from tin foil? We can't resist: most likely, the sound is will be thin and dare we say bright?

Warwick Audio Technology via BBC News