An Osaka-based semiconductor trading firm Mikasa Shoji, working with a flat speaker company, has created a bendable, foldable loudspeaker made from woven copper wiring and polyester.

The new product exploits the technology of Protro Co, a Shizuoka Prefecture-based maker of thin, flat speakers, and has been developed with the assistance of major textile corporations and other firms.

The speakers' ultra-thin (50 micron) copper wiring has power supplied to it and works much like a conventional speaker with two super thin magnets attached to the back of the textile to produce sound. Acoustic power is reinforced with metal sheets attached to the wafer-thin, natural magnets.

An electric current is run through the wiring to make the cloth vibrate and produce sound, although for the moment the company says its applications should be limited to voice or high or low frequencies.

The ability to bend the driver surface introduces some interesting potential applications such as including the speaker in clothing, curtains or wall coverings.

The speaker's size can be adjusted to each user's needs. A product measuring 5.5cm wide x 30cm long, for example, costs about 15,000 yen. Mikasa Shoji aims to reduce the price to about 5,000 yen next year.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.