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If you like being on the cutting edge of consumer technology, say hello to the latest wearable speaker tech: a tiny, stretchy speaker and microphone. The new speaker technology was designed in part to help people with hearing and speech disabilities and could possibly be embedded into the ears, or into a throat patch but it isn't quite ready for the market just yet.
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Along with the thin, stretchy speaker that can be placed on the skin, researchers have created a similar device which acts as a microphone and placed on the throat. It can also be connected to smartphones and computers to unlock voice-activated security systems, translate speech, and any number of endless possibilities.
Researchers designed the new speakers and microphone to be flexible and thinner than a temporary tattoo. It also needed to be stretchable enough to bend and flex along with the skin without losing their ability to function which they do by utilizing electricity and heat to transmit audio signals. The speaker receives an electric audio signal from a music player like your iPhone, then the tiny speaker heats up the wire grid to about 33 degrees Celsius which replicates the sound pattern by changing the pressure of the air around it. Our ears are then able to translate the changes in air pressure into sound waves.
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In a test setup by researchers to test the ability of the microphone, four people were asked to unlock a smart-phone with voice-recognization software but only one of them was the actual registered user. Out of the 10 trials, the microphone system was able to correctly identify the voice over 98% of the time. There is some real promise with this latest technology and it seems like another small step in an inevitable future were human biology morphs with technology with endless possibility.
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