Fashion forward could some day take on an entirely new meaning. With apologies to those well known fashion mavens, the future of fabric may very be in electronics. One day, clothing could be a surround sound device. Yes, that surround sound. Research at the MIT labs are about to yield electronic textiles. According to the experts, the key to electronic textiles is fiber that can change its properties over a wide range of frequencies. Such acoustic fibers are made from the same type of plastic commonly used in microphones. By aligning the fluorine and hydrogen molecules in asymmetrical ways, researchers created piezoelectric plastics which are not electric, plastic pizzas as the name might suggest.
Piezoelectricity is the magic behind fibers reacting to frequencies and therefore being used as speakers and microphones. Eventually any given wall could double as an audio wall. The sound could come from acoustically enhanced, wall paper fashioned from acoustic fabrics. And when someone says, “If these walls could talk,” well who knows, they actually might just do that. As is generally the case with cutting edge science, while the researchers were able to generate audible sound through fibers, the science is only in its infancy and actually purchasing such fabric at the neighborhood store is somewhat in the distant future. But just imagine the day your grocer asks, “Paper or plastic,” and the plastic says, “Pick me, pick me.” Well, that’s actually a different kind of technology but electronic fabric is still a very interesting idea.
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