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

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate...    More

Unipex Group buys Ferguson Chemical Innovation

July 29, 2014 1:57 pm ET

Chemical distributor Unipex Group Inc. announced July 29 that it had purchased Ferguson Chemical Innovation, a Brampton, Ontario-based supplier of...    More

Image

Carbon black supplier Orion begins trading on NYSE

July 29, 2014 11:29 am ET

Orion Engineered Carbons S.a.r.l. has priced the initial public offering of 19.5 million common shares at a price to the public of $18 per share.    More

Image

Dow sees solid second quarter performance

July 29, 2014 11:19 am ET

Dow Chemical Co. has reported its second quarter figures, with its seventh consecutive quarter of growth, according to the company.More

Image

Evonik sells polyimide foams operation to Boyd

July 29, 2014 10:46 am ET

Modesto, Calif.-based Boyd Corp., a manufacturers of specialty material and sealing agents, has purchased Evonik Industries’ Solimid...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

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

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

More Events