Electroactive polymers help listeners 'feel' sound

Published: June 4, 2013 12:46 pm ET
Updated: June 6, 2013 10:39 am ET

Image By: Bayer MaterialScience AG Bayer MaterialScience's Artificial Muscle Inc. subsidiary is using electroactive polymer technology to help make headphones with intense, live sound experience

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Electronics, Design, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations Bayer MaterialScience LLC

CINCINNATI — The next time you listen to a live album, you could do more than just hear applause; you might be able to feel it.

Artificial Muscle Inc., a subsidiary of Bayer MaterialScience LLC, is bringing electroactive polymer technology to phones, tablets and, most recently, headphones.

EAP technology can be used to create products that offer haptic, or tactile response, feedback; users of headphones or hand-held devices equipping EAP technology are able to feel vibrations that correspond to complicated sound waves.

"You put in a wave form that looks like a heartbeat and what you'll feel on your phone or tablet is a heartbeat," said Xian Quan, vice president of materials development for AMI, at Antec 2013.

AMI's ViviTouch 4D Sound technology involves printing electrodes on very thin pieces of polymer film. The electrodes respond to different voltage and cause the film to vibrate. When you change the voltage, the vibration changes as well. It can be programmed to respond to very complicated, precise sound waves, so a bouncing ball will vibrate differently than an explosion.

When used in headphones, the ViviTouch actuator stimulates the bone and tissue in your ears, amplifying how you hear and perceive sound. The headphones create an "HD sensory experience," Quan said. It's like putting "subwoofers on ears."

According to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMI, ViviTouch offers a "cross-neuron experience." Listeners experience sound as an actual physical sensation – the film stimulates the movement of a muscle, responding to sound in real time and "emoting a physical sensation that can be felt through the skin around the ears."

Developing ViviTouch technology required finding the perfect dielectric films, electrodes, frames and adhesives. All of the elements are dependent on each other, so if you change one, the whole thing changes, she said.

The film in particular had to meet high humidity and temperature requirements. Silicones offer the best option so far, but better materials that are easier to process and offer greater diametric properties, are still needed, Quan said.

After years of development and scale-up, EAP technology is finally entering the marketplace, she said.

In 2011, AMI marketed a case for Apple Inc.'s fourth-generation iPod Touch that used ViviTouch technology.

The technology also has the potential to be used in high-efficiency electricity generators and large-area sensors, Quan said.

Antec 2013 was held April 21-25 in Cincinnati.


Comments

Electroactive polymers help listeners 'feel' sound

Published: June 4, 2013 12:46 pm ET
Updated: June 6, 2013 10:39 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Sadara CEO says Middle East now has 20 percent of global ethylene capacity

October 24, 2014 9:33 am ET

Sadara CEO Ziad Al-Labban claims that the Middle East's ethylene capacity is now 20 percent of global production.    More

Image

Sabic, Shell cancel expansion for SADAF joint venture in Saudi Arabia

October 24, 2014 9:19 am ET

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell have cancelled plans to expand an existing petrochemical joint venture in Saudi Arabia following...    More

Image

PolyOne increases quarterly profits despite falling sales

October 23, 2014 4:55 pm ET

North American compounding leader PolyOne Corp. saw its third-quarter profit increase, even as sales fell vs. the year-ago period.    More

Image

Westlake adding ethylene capacity in Louisiana

October 23, 2014 9:54 pm ET

Westlake Chemical Corp. will add 250 million pounds of annual ethane-based ethylene capacity as part of a $330 million expansion project in Lake...    More

Image

Total picks new management following CEO's death in crash

October 23, 2014 11:03 am ET

Total SA has picked a new management team to oversee the company in the wake of a plane crash in Moscow that killed its chairman and CEO earlier this ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events