Rock on Science Research!: Solid Walls of Sound and Printable Speakers

Printable speakers? Yes. Printable speakers. When I heard about this new ability (video below), the phrase “solid walls of sound” from Bennie and the Jets popped into my head. Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound describes a music production technique. The printable speaker makes it a literal, albeit thin, wall. The video shows bottles beng used as speakers. The print technology also opens the door to printing solar cells. For those who demand a serious note, consider how any politician claiming to be able to create jobs can plausibly address the replicator world into which we are stepping. Imagine printing speaker. Cool. Imagine less need for someone to make them. Less cool from that whole jobs front. Nonetheless, watch the video and see what may be coming to a printer near you. (Not right away but in five years perhaps).

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2 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Five years may be a bit optimistic. I was already investigating printable electronics as a VC at Sony 12 years ago, when they were beginning to move from university to start-up stage. Their path to commercialization has been very slow. In fact, very few of the materials-based technologies I was looking at from that era have attained applications in consumer electronics, though a couple of the companies have survived. One of those is E-Ink, whose paperless display is used in Kindles — but 10+ years later, that company still isn’t selling technology meeting the performance spec we were hoping for: full-motion color display without filters. Maybe it just isn’t targeting that market anymore, since LCD is so cheap and good for that app. (OLED is another LCD rival that Sony, Samsung and others have spent tremendous effort on, for an even longer time, though products remain few and low-volume.) The D in R&D takes a lot of time, trial and error, and in the meantime the cost-performance stats of competing technologies improve. At least: when it comes to manufacturing real stuff, not software.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Clarification: LCD remains tops for full-motion display applications, but it uses color filters, too (unlike OLED and a couple of others).