Flat, transparent speakers get more efficient

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. has developed a pneumatically driven transparent flat-panel speaker which can be fitted over display screens. It consumes less power than directly driven transparent flat-panel speakers, making it suitable for mobile devices such as notebook PCs, cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants), the company announced last week.

The Sound Window consists of a transparent panel mounted in front of the display, and a separate driver to vibrate the air between the panel and the display to create sound, according to a statement by the Osaka-based company, better known for its Panasonic brand name.

Because the speaker panel is so thin and flexible, sound quality is unaffected even if the display panel is touched, so it can even be used with touch-screen displays, the statement said.

The system can send sound pressure to the entire speaker panel surface, allowing the speaker panel to be formed in any shape and the driver to be installed anywhere, the statement said.

A small driver diaphragm can efficiently vibrate a panel ten or more times larger, Matsushita said.

The company plans to commercialize the Sound Window later this year, it said.

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