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 Electronics, Materials, Materials Suppliers, Design
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

EPA fines RI polymer company

August 29, 2014 1:20 pm ET

A Rhode Island polymer manufacturer has reached a $60,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating federal clean...    More

Image

Updating a travel icon for the professional millennial

August 29, 2014 11:44 am ET

As part of a drive to expand its customer base to include more millennials, Airstream Inc. turned to the Columbus College of Art & Design's...    More

Image

Chinese compounders seek market shares, often at the expense of margins

August 29, 2014 10:02 am ET

China's largest compounder, Kingfa Sci. & Tech. Co. Ltd., as well as its more automotive-focused counterparts Shanghai Pret Composites Co. Ltd. and...    More

Image

PP prices rise 5 cents

August 28, 2014 3:59 pm ET

After a one-month break, volatility has returned to the North American polypropylene resin market, with prices increasing by an average of 5 cents...    More

Image

DuPont fined for 2010 chemicals release

August 28, 2014 1:37 pm ET

DuPont Co. has been fined almost $1.3 million for the release of several chemicals — including plastics feedstock phosgene — at its plant ...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

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

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