Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Using Tables as Speakers

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the transformers-more-than-meets-the-eye dept.

Technology 313

James writes "At CeBIT, Olympia has been showing off its Soundbug - a gadget that can turn almost any flat surface into a soundboard. It's only gonna cost £29.99 (around $45, i guess), but it sounds like there's some seriously cool science behind it."

cancel ×

313 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hocus Pocus (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162254)

Calculus yodeling! Come on! Shout it! Raise the roof! Slashdot editors are morons! Don't subscribe!

FIRSTY POSTY!!! (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162391)

Q:What did the frenchman say to the german?

A:Hello sir, may I please polish your boots?

Attention: (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162257)

Do not post comments in this story, they have been disabled.

Quality. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162269)

Neat idea, but I really can't see them sounding all that great.
Especially when hooked up to a MP3 player: "The Soundbug can be plugged into ..., an MP3 player"

floors? (2, Funny)

astrodawg (54943) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162271)

I have hardwood floors in my house. I imagine my neighbor won't be very pleased if it works with my floor.

Re:floors? (0)

GnomeKing (564248) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162285)

Sure, floors are a good start windows are mentioned in the article why not just plug one into every flat surface in the house! Would bring a completely different viewpoing on "raising the roof" at parties :D

Re:floors? (3, Interesting)

madfgurtbn (321041) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162438)

See www.invisiblestereo.com They sell a large version of something similar where you attach the coil to the back side of drywall, or under your floor, turning your wall or floor into a speaker. It sounds pretty good, and its fun to have people try to find the speakers in your house. I know a guy who has 40 of them all over his home.

body parts? (2, Funny)

CrazyBrett (233858) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162275)

Woah, can I turn my chest into a speaker?

Imagine walking down the street, blasting music from your belly :)

Re:body parts? (2, Interesting)

kryptkpr (180196) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162308)

Did you read the article?

It says the thing puts out 400lb of pressure.... you want that on your chest? Enjoy!

Re:body parts? (2, Interesting)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162372)

yeah the article knows the difference between force (lbf) and pressure (lbf/area). i dont think it exerts 400 lbs of force on the flat object, but rather on the coil inside. i would imagine that a 400 lb force applied to a window wouldnt be too good for the glass.

since this is one of the mediums they are suggesting you use it with, i dont think it will do too much damage will be placed apon to the original poster if he plans on using his chest. i think one requirement is that the surface be rigid so that it can transmit the sound. i doubt most of our chests are rigid.

Re:body parts? (1)

PotPieMan (54815) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162313)

I don't know about you, but my belly's not very flat...this technology only works with flat surfaces.

Re:body parts? (1)

AssFace (118098) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162328)

how flat it your chest?

Re:body parts? (5, Funny)

yatest5 (455123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162345)

how flat it your chest?

Must be a geek chick....

Re:body parts? (1, Offtopic)

psychosis (2579) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162380)

So CowboyNeal would be the woofer, right?

Re:body parts? (-1)

CofWheat (464490) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162448)

Terry Hillson has very sexy pantyhosed legs YUM YUM

Re:body parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162471)

The article said to use a FLAT surface... like your head.

Rock and roll (1)

Don't Exist (548673) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162276)

I wonder if it can bring the house down it attached to a wall with rock music?

Re:Rock and roll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162309)

You'd probably have to play Tear Down The Wall...

Feedback loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162279)


Sounds like you could do amusing things with an audio feedback loop.

... "oops, my table's broken"

:)

Stay the fuck up out my biznass, geeks! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162281)

Roll out!

[repeat 6x]
Roll out! Roll out! Roll out! Roll out!

[Chorus - "roll out!" in background]
I got my twin glock .40s, cocked back
Me and my homies, so drop that
We rollin on twenties, with the top back
So much money, you can't stop that
Twin glock .40s, cocked back
Me and my homies, so drop that
We rollin on twenties, with the top back
So much money, you can't stop that

Now where'd you get that platinum chain with them diamonds in it?
Where'd you get that matchin Benz with them windows tinted?
Who them girls you be with when you be ridin through?
Man I ain't got nothin to prove, I paid my dues
Breakin the rules, I shake fools while I'm takin 'em, whewwwww!
Tell me who's your weed man, how do you smoke so good?
You's a superstar boy, why you still up in the hood?
What in the world is in that BAG, what you got in that BAG?
A couple a cans a whoop ass, you did a good ass job of just eyein me, spyin me

[Chorus]

Man, that car don't come out until next year, where in the fuck did you get it?
That's eighty-thousand bucks GONE, where in the fuck did you spend it?
You must have eyes on your back, 'cause you got money to the ceiling
And the bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin
The better I'm feelin, the more that I'm chillin
Winnin, drillin and killin the feelin
Now who's that bucked-naked cook fixin three-coast meals?
Gettin goosebumps when her body tap the six inch heels
What in the world is in that ROOM, what you got in that ROOM?
A couple a gats, a couple a knives, a couple of rats, a couple of wives
Now it's time to choose

[Chorus]

Are you custom-made, custom-paid, or you just custom-fitted?
Playstation 2 up in the ride and is that Lorenzo-kitted?
Is that your wife, your girlfriend or just your main bitch?
You take a pick, while I'm rubbin the hips, touchin lips to the top of the dick
Now tell me who's your housekeeper and what you keep in your house?
What about diamonds and gold, is that what you keep in your mouth?
What in the world is in that CASE, what you got in that CASE?
Get up out my face, you couldn't relate, wait to take place at a similar pace
So shake, shake it

[(Chorus) 1/2x]

Get out my business, my biznass
Stay the fuck up out my biznass, ah
'Cause these niggas all up in my shit and it's my business,
my biznass
Stay the fuck up out my biznass, 'cause it's mine, oh mine
My business, my biznass
Stay the fuck up out my biznass
'Cause these niggas all up in my shit.......[fade]

Re:Stay the fuck up out my biznass, geeks! (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162339)

I'd like to take issue with the line:

I got my twin glock .40s, cocked back

Glocks do not have exposed hammers, so I can't imagine what 'cocked back' refers to. Indeed, Glocks have a rather unique firing system, in that the hammer is left in a semi-cocked position when a round is chambered. If it is released it will not have enough energy to fire the shell. The hammer is actully cocked as the trigger is squeezed, which is why I hate Glocks, the damn trigger creep is ridiculous. (Altohough in the summer you'll find me carrying a G36 as it is much less bulky than even the scaled down 1911 variants).

Fake ass gangsters.

well... (1)

SeicheWarning (560802) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162283)

I wonder what would happen if I shaved my head and stuck this thing on my skull?

Re:well... (1)

Indras (515472) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162327)

I wonder what would happen if I shaved my head and stuck this thing on my skull?

Well, judging from this quote in the article; "...Passing electricity through the coil causes the piece of Terfonal to slightly expand, resulting in a force of 400 pounds...", it might not be very pleasant.

Re:well... (1)

Mr Windows (91218) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162421)

OTOH, it's apparently OK to use this on a big sheet of glass (which is much more brittle than your skull, I hope), without shattering it. The force won't do you much harm, but the vibrations will probably do nasty things after a while; coal miners and others who use pneumatic drills often suffer from vibration white finger [bbc.co.uk] , which damages blood vessels (of which there are quite a few in your head), nerves (ditto), and other body parts. I guess I wouldn't want any of this to happen to my head! It can (in miners) lead to the loss of your fingers. I suppose if it happens to your head, you'd lose that, too :(

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162490)

OTOH, if you did use it on your skull, you probably didn't have much of a brain in your head to speak of. So losing your head wouldn't really matter much :P

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162426)

Hopefully a Darwin award.

Karma Whoring (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162286)

Here is the entire linked story, minus any line or paragraph breaks. Mod me up!

Soundbug turns flat surfaces into speakers 12:25 Thursday 14th March 2002 Graeme Wearden The desks are alive with the sound of music at the CeBIT show in Hannover, as Olympia launches a cheap device that will turn any surface into the biggest speaker on the block It may be more famous for making typewriters, but Olympia has just revealed what some observers are calling one of the sexiest gadgets of this year's CeBIT -- a small device that can turn pretty much any flat surface into a soundboard. The Soundbug can be plugged into the headphone socket of, for example, an MP3 player or a walkman, and then fixed by suction to the flat surface -- effectively turning a desk or window into a speaker. Set to go on sale in the UK for £29.99, the Soundbug -- which is roughly the same size as a computer mouse -- will be targeted at the youth market, but it is likely to appeal to a much wider range of technology users. "We spoke to plenty of children when we were designing the Soundbug, and they all really wanted to know when they'd be able to buy one," Richard May, Olympia's president, told ZDNet UK. The sound quality achieved by Soundbug is impressive, especially when the device is attached to a thick piece of a dense material -- such as a desk. It's even possible to daisy-chain two Soundbugs together to achieve stereo sound, even when both are stuck to the same surface. The Soundbug was developed in partnership with Newlands Scientific, a commercial research company that was spun off from Hull University. The Soundbug transmits the sound to the flat surface by way of a small piece of Terfenol, which is a mixture of rare earth metals and iron. This substance is placed within an aluminium case, around which is wrapped a coil. Passing electricity through the coil causes the piece of Terfonal to slightly expand, resulting in a force of 400 pounds, explained Newlands Scientific managing director Brian Smith. Once attached to a flat surface, Soundbug will transmit electronic signals into mechanical energy -- causing the flat surface to vibrate and broadcast the sound. Smith told ZDNet UK that there are many exciting applications for this technology, which is called magnetostriction. In theory, it could create noise-insulating windows that could block out the sound of traffic. Olympia also demonstrated a mobile phone version of Soundbug, that will be aimed at business workers. The device can be stuck to a car windscreen, meaning that drivers can have a hands-free conversation without having to wear a headset. It could be on sale by the end of this summer, and May is aiming for a price of £49.99. A high-end conference phone version is also being developed that would mean everyone seated around a table would be able to hear the phone conversation equally clearly. For now, though, the focus is on the launch of Soundbug next month. "We're hoping that Soundbug will be the number one product on childrens' Christmas present list," said May. If Olympia is that successful, the Soundbug could even become a bit of a pest. "Just imagine what the school bus could be like," grinned May. For full coverage of CeBIT 2002 -- the biggest tech show in the world -- see the CeBIT News Special. For further coverage of upcoming UK and international events go to ZDNet UK's Events channel. Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Go to the ZDNet news forum. Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. Related Links Comdex Chicago: The world is wireless Creative takes sound out of the box Creative Labs blasts out Audigy Nuggets: Cool flat panel speakers with a thumping bass Search for similar stories Email this story to a friend Printer friendly version

So it rattles furniture (1, Funny)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162287)

The surfaces of my windows do the same thing when certain idiots drive by.

it's kinda cute.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162289)

http://www.golem.de/0203/18739.html

Only moderately cool (5, Insightful)

SanLouBlues (245548) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162293)

I have a similar device. It's a guitar. Just touch the headstock to anything and play. Or cut the big magnet in a speaker out of the cone, and tape it to a table. The real test will be the fidelity of the sound. Although the thought of stereo from two connectors on a single surface sounds acceptably super-cool.

For more information (3, Informative)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162294)

You should see this [slashdot.org] Slashdot article from nearly a year ago. It describes Korean scientists doing this exact same thing, but as a "proof-of-concept" type of thing.

Apparently, some things that Slashbots debunk as vaporware are made practical :-)

Desk for a speaker? (1)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162297)

But if your desk is the speaker, not only would you not get stereo sound, but you would not be able to use the desk, or it would probably ruin the sound. Think about it, how would the music sound with a monitor, a couple books, and some food sitting on the desk. Using the windows or some other large furniture in the room would be better, but again, you would need at least two for stereo sound, and they would probably need to be roughly the same size and density for the sounds to match.

Re:Desk for a speaker? (2, Insightful)

IainHere (536270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162436)

Well, obviously damping the vibrations (with books etc) would decrease the volume, but it's not true that you wouldn't be able to achieve stereo sound with a single vibrating body. Different parts of your desk don't have to vibrate in phase or at the same frequency unless it is infinitely stiff, which it isn't.

Conference Calls? (4, Interesting)

dthable (163749) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162300)

So the article talks about using the technology to improve the conference phone that so many businesses have placed. But if everyone is seated and taking notes, won't their contact with the table stop the vibrations? Same with the desk. If I have a lot of crap on it, does the soundbug quality reduce because the desk can't vibrate?

been around (2, Informative)

AssFace (118098) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162302)

I can recall Sharper Image's catalog having these for whole walls in the past. If I recall a write up in a sound magazine, the quality is surprisingly good, but obviously not like audiophile level.

Play nice (5, Funny)

bachelor3 (68410) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162305)

The sound quality achieved by Soundbug is impressive, especially when the device is attached to a thick piece of a dense material.

Hey, now I can say something good about my roommate!

Re:Play nice (2)

mizhi (186984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162412)

The sound quality achieved by Soundbug is impressive, especially when the device is attached to a thick piece of a dense material.

Hey, now I can say something good about my roommate!



And even if he doesn't look good, smell good, or think well, then at least you can make him SOUND good by attaching the bug to his skull! :-)

Wonderful... (1)

spagma (514837) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162306)

Now the guys with the bass systems in their vehicles will have sound eminating from their windows as well.

damn jews (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162314)

fucking jews won't even shell out for speakers

we need another holocaust

Not "New"s (1)

alien (4129) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162315)

This technology has been around for years. They've been turning glass into resonance speakers the same way.

Re:Not "New"s (1)

n9hmg (548792) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162432)

Well, an implementation using a suction cup is new, at least to me, but I've seen such things at hamfests, since at least 1988.
They were large lag screws with a driver coil directly mounted thereon, driving a VERY heavy magnet suspended on light springs, so when you applied the audio, The magnet largely would hold still, moving the driver coil/lag screw, which was to be screwed into a wall stud. I never heard one in action, though, but if the lag screw didn't turn the wood its in into sawdust, it should give awesome bass.

I've been expecting to see some moron with one mounted in the center of his car roof for a subwoofer. If I ever do, I'm finally going to scavenge that old klystron and start sniping.

I tried it (1)

wakamole (232743) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162318)

Turn any surface into a crappy sounding speaker!

Wireless? (3, Funny)

Havokmon (89874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162320)

All they need is a wireless version, and my wife can move the furniture all she wants.

Destructive? (1)

skilef (525335) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162323)

Could be the perfect weapon with a couple of ampere more and defined frequencies; resonance will do the job..

Re:Destructive? (1)

ryepup (522994) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162350)

Atriedes Sonic tanks?

Marketing Plan? (2, Funny)

actor_au (562694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162324)

All that I wonder about this(other than when can I get one) is how long till some genius in a Marketing department somewhere turns an entire building into a non-stop looping jingle? Just think, Times Square (which is already an advertising mecca) but now with J-Lo/ Kylie/ Britney playing in the background 24 hours a Day!

Re:Marketing Plan? (2, Funny)

Flarg! (265195) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162459)

Yay! Kill me now, please!

Remember the vogons... (3, Funny)

Natanleod (546583) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162326)

Next thing we know is that Vogons will announce us, turning every table into a a speaker, that our planet is to be destroyed to make way for an hyperspace bypass...

The ultimate feedback loop? (2)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162330)

I wonder what would happen if I attached the device to this large piece of sheet metal the local orchestra uses, placed its input microphone in front of the sheet and give the sheet a hefty whack... Or even dumped the microphone and captured the vibrations directly for that matter.

I suspect "loud" would be a good place to start.

More info (5, Informative)

Mr Windows (91218) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162332)

Soundbug is made by Newlands Scientific [terfenol.com] , a company based in Hull (UK), and comes in a variety of colours, some of which (pink and purple) are pretty disgusting, some of which (grey and blue) aren't...

Their website has plenty more glossy pictures, and a bit more info about "smart materials", which are used to make the wall/glass/whatever vibrate. They seem to be similar to piezo-electric materials, though better (at least, that's what the company would have you believe).

excellent... (1)

Sapphon (214287) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162333)

I'm gonna have heaps of fun with this! Hook it up to a radio reciever, make people think they're going insane:

"Taco... Taco... this is your fridge talking to you... come join us... room for one more..."

RIAA (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162340)

I wonder if now the RIAA will insist that all tables be sold with software to prevent people from using them to play copyrighted materials.

dan.

Can you strap this onto your head? (2)

swagr (244747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162341)

Sure beats headphones.

a picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162342)

http://www.shoplifestyle.com/store/product.asp?pf% 5Fid=3858&source=altvas

Thats what it looks like.

cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162348)

play a song for me
for I am not sleepy and have no place to be

Practical joke ability (5, Insightful)

Erich (151) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162349)

This has great potential in the realm of practical jokes.

Imagine sucking this to the underside of someone's desk way back in the knee well. Then attach it to a radio and a timer device that will randomly turn on the radio for a few seconds every few hours.

Imagine attaching this to the door of the person who was making loud, annoying noises with a POTAS whilst you were trying to sleep, and waking them up when you have to go to your 8:00 class!

The possibilities for this device are truely limitless.

any flat surface? (1)

kitchen (112068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162353)

what about flat panel "displays". then you've got spaker and monitor in one. I bet that's a savings.

Re:any flat surface? (0)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162402)

Saving = singular.

I bet that's a saving / I bet they are savings.

Re:any flat surface? (2)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162470)

Ah... no.

You'd probably wind up seriously distorting the image in a multitude of ways. The first (and probably least likely) would be from the sound waves/impacts causing ripples on the display surface.

The second (and much more likely) is the EM field from the soundbug screwing with the plasma display's magnetics. It'd also screw with LCDs for the same reason. You'd probably wind up with a soundbug sized distortion on the front of the screen, with the potential of permanantly trashing that area of the screen if left long enough. And yes, you'd have to attach it to the back of the screen (meaning your flat panel isn't flat anymore), since you kinda want to watch the front of the screen.

Front projectors don't have rigid enough screens for something like this. So it's not even applicable.

And besides, anyone who drops the cash for a good flat panel or front projection system is abysmally stupid for using something like this instead of a good surround sound speaker setup.

Re:any flat surface? (2)

Tazzy531 (456079) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162481)

In addition, to make a good sound, you need a rather sturdy surface that will affect the air around it for the sound waves. Attaching it to a monitor would only bounce around the monitor because it is absorbing much of the energy and not really transferring it to the air as in sound waves.

Seen it, loved it, want one! (5, Interesting)

deepstephen (149398) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162355)

The Soundbug is very very cool indeed. My flatmate is doing some work for Newlands Scientific (the people who developed this stuff) and I've seen the Soundbug in action. I want one!

Even better, IMHO, is the 'conference call' product they alluded to in the article. I think they're referring to the Soundbubble, which will create a 'bubble' within which you can *only* hear the sound source you want (e.g. the phone call). If you're outside the bubble, you won't be able to hear the phone conversation.

It's absolutely amazing, and the possibilities are endless. Imagine being able to walk into a crowded, noisy bar and be able to have a whispered conversation with the person standing next to you. Neither of you would be able to hear the rest of the bar, and the rest of the bar would be unable to hear you.

It really is like something out of a sci-fi novel. Those of you who have read any Iain M Banks novels will know this works much the same way as his sound fields.

Sounds like the cone of silence (3, Funny)

dar (15755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162447)

Oh wait. You're probably all too young to remember that.


dar

Prior art (3, Funny)

GMontag (42283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162464)

Even better, IMHO, is the 'conference call' product they alluded to in the article. I think they're referring to the Soundbubble, which will create a 'bubble' within which you can *only* hear the sound source you want (e.g. the phone call). If you're outside the bubble, you won't be able to hear the phone conversation.

I hope they do not intend on getting a patent for "the cone of silence" as pioneered on the American TV show "Get Smart!"

What's next? Attaching these things to GSM shoes?

Fun for all the family (0)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162356)

Attach it to the cat's back! Watch grandma boogie to the sound of her stomach-speaker! Laugh as your ceiling collapses around you thanks to it's 'bass-boost' functionality! Watch chicken heads explode as you turn their coups into 7Hz resonating huts of doom!

Can't wait to get hold of one of these :)

Re:Fun for all the family (3, Funny)

marcop (205587) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162390)

Or strap it to a desk as its intended purpose, turn up the bass, then convince your SO to have sex on the desk. In the middle of the action turn the unit on and enjoy how your SO exclaims, "you really make the world shake!"

Re:Fun for all the family (1, Funny)

Fucky the troll (528068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162419)

"you really make the world shake. I just wish you'd stop that damned tellytubbies theme tune while you're at it" :)

"sound bug"? (1)

carm$y$ (532675) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162359)

When I read the title I was almost sure it's a re-run of this [slashdot.org]

Official Site (3, Informative)

theCURE (551589) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162362)

Check out this [soundbug.biz] link for the official site of the product. Includes pictures.

A small version of The ButtKicker! (1)

crosbie (446285) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162363)

There's the ButtKicker for floors:

http://www.thebuttkicker.com/

I remember putting one of those little music box mechanisms (tiny little alloy chassis) against a railway carriage window and being very surprised by how very loud it suddenly sounded (as were most of the other passengers).

Flat panel speakers (2, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162368)

I have a set of Wharfedale flat panel speakers, which use similar technology I suppose. The sound quality is decidedly "thin" and the old magnet driven cones beat it hands down.

I would love to see a more technical analysis of the soundbug and I looked around.

The official site is here [soundbug.biz] , and has a nice photo.

A german article is here [golem.de]

However, I did not find a nice frequency response graph based on some standard material like a pane of glass one metre square, or MY office desk ;-) for example.

In all, it looks reasonably cool, and I can see applications everywhere. Now, when am I going to be able to get one in Morocco??

Terfenol? (3, Informative)

glh (14273) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162374)

>>The Soundbug transmits the sound to the flat
>>surface by way of a small piece of Terfenol,
>>which is a mixture of rare earth metals and
>>iron. This substance is placed within an
>>aluminium case, around which is wrapped a coil.

If they make a ton of these, what's that going to mean for our supply of Terfenol? I'm not an environmentalist or anything, but I'm sure people won't be happy.

Here [ucla.edu] is a cool article and picture on Terfenol. Looks like its main purpose is for damping and energy absorption. Kind of looks like gold!

Better version already available (5, Informative)

IainHere (536270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162375)

DERA the British "defence" research agency developed a much better version [qinetiq.com] years ago (technologically, if not financially), where the panel itself was made to vibrate using electronic impulses. More info here [go.com] .

Interestingly, they were looking for ways to reduce background noise (using anti-noise) when they stumbled across it. They've been available commercially for years.

time to get the idiots back (1)

Cape Verdean (565725) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162377)

i reflect back upon all the times when the morons would drive by playing their music at such ungodly levels it rattles the trunk of their 1978 2-door Buick Regal. (i listen to hip hop and R&B, i assure u people not in the know that "they" are playing what i like to refer to as "trash rap") -hopefully i can momentarily deafen these same kids when i hook this little gem to truck.

Olympia website (0)

lsw (95027) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162379)


Their website should be http://www.olympia.to/ [olympia.to] but there is no mention of this device yet.

Official Soundbug site (4, Informative)

deepstephen (149398) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162382)

The official Soundbug site is here [soundbug.biz] . You can enter yourself into a prize draw to win one...

Re:Official Soundbug site (2)

JPriest (547211) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162446)

Check out he demo movie [soundbug.biz] on the site, my download of the 8 meg file was blazing fast so I don't think anyone found it yet.

hmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162383)

now all they have to do is make the 'brown note' readily available and we can grab mass amounts of the speakers hook them up to the car.
Sounds like it could be more fun than the internet.

I won'd be buying the barney kids version (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162385)

But the technology has definite car audio potential. Now I just need to find a good price on plexi glass windows.

Laptop speakers? (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162389)

I wonder if something like this could be built small enough to integrate into my laptop, so the screen could radiate sound. It wouldn't take much to improve upon the tinny crap that comes built in, and with a lot of modern laptops being made of magnesium or titanium, I'd think that they're certainly rigid enough to be driven by one of these. Just a few more details from my rudimentary understanding of german:

Great alternative to headphones
Needs a metal plate, glass surface, or other similar surface
Can generate sound levels up to 75 dB
A group of people can listen to music, or a presenter can give a preso w/ a laptop without speakers!
weighs 180 grams 6.34 oz, or about the same as an iPod
http://www.soundbug.biz has some more info as well

Invisible Stereo (4, Interesting)

mframe (174780) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162395)

The first thing I thought of when I saw this were some units from a company called Invisible Stereo. [invisiblestereo.com]

Same deal, just put them behind your drywall, and your entire wall turns into a speaker. Different thicknesses, different frequency responses.

I never heard them in person, but they always intruiged me. Anybody ever use/hear these?

bigger applications (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162399)

I can see this applied to places like theaters, if you could get walls, floors and ceiling to vibrate.

This would really get the subsonics going.

The ultimate would of course be stadiums, for rock concerts and other public events. I can seen the politicians now, using sound to held inspire fear or some other emotion depending on the vibrations being put into the mix.

"I don't know, but I felt sort of tingly when I saw him/her live. TV just doesn't communicate his/her charisma"

Of course, the stress testing of the building designs would have to be taken to a whole new level, to handle the extra energy.

Laurie Anderson's Sound Table (5, Interesting)

MrIcee (550834) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162403)

Couple comments about this technology. First, devices that did this are fairly old. I remember about 20 or 30 years ago a wall system was announced (I forget by whom) that would turn your entire wall into a speaker. I also remember that school buses had a similar system for announcing for awhile - where a transducer turned the roof of the bus into a speaker system.

But that aside... this reminds me also of something I saw the Musician Laurie Anderson do... I visited her traveling museum (stocked full of VERY COOL things she had invented). One of her inventions was a large wood dinner table. At the point where each person sat was two small indentations in the table - exactly where you would rest your elbows with your hands on your face (as so many of us do while eating).

The cool thing was she had transducers in the holes... you could hear absolutly nothing until you put your elbows in the holes and leaned your head on your hands... then instantly you heard MUSIC in your ears! This was accomplished by bone induction (e.g., the music traveling through your elbow and into your arm bone and out your hand into your head). The quality was astonishing!

The other neat thing was it was fully stereo (unless you were a one-armed-man) and each person at the table got a totally different soundtrack.

Shattering glass or even buildings? (1)

kyoorius (16808) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162407)

I would imagine that with the right frequency and enough volume, one of these might be able to shatter window panes and other brittle objects.
Can't wait to get one this Christmas!

Magnetostriction is cool? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162414)

It might be, but it's not new. Been used since WWII for sonar, and in the wild wild 50s and 60s for delay line memories.
What the article doesn't mention is how the sound is generated, I suppose if it's put on a desk, the sound will radiate upwards. What is the interaction with objects on the desk?

limited market (2)

asv108 (141455) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162423)

Can anyone think of an application where the soundbug would be preferential over standard or wireless speakers? I don't think cost is really an issue since you can pick up cheap speakers for under $10 or even used ones for less than that. The article mentions teleconferencing but people who are partaking in activities such as teleconferencing tend to have deep enough pockets to splurge for a decent sound system.

Damage to surfaces? (1)

jhines0042 (184217) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162430)

Passing electricity through the coil causes the piece of Terfonal to slightly expand, resulting in a force of 400 pounds, explained Newlands Scientific managing director Brian Smith. Once attached to a flat surface, Soundbug will transmit electronic signals into mechanical energy -- causing the flat surface to vibrate and broadcast the sound.

So basically it is a way to pound, rythmically, on the surface, to replicate sound from a source. Great.... does it damage the surface? How many of these are going to be bought for kids by parents only to be forbidden to use it anywhere due to the damage it causes?

It would be interesting to try it on a drywall wall though. I've seen professional quality speakers that are designed to be mounted in the wall and they use the space in the wall as their speaker box. Wonder if these would be able to be used as (low quality) invisible wall speakers?

Re:Damage to surfaces? (1)

Mr Windows (91218) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162461)

So basically it is a way to pound, rythmically, on the surface, to replicate sound from a source[...]
No: basically, it's a way to make a surface vibrate. All the moving parts are enclosed. If you go to the website of Newlands Scientific [terfenol.com] , you can find some pictures which show a thing similar in shape and size to a mouse, with a suction cup to attach them to smooth surfaces. There isn't a little hammer sticking out to pound on your table!

Harddrive speakers (1)

paranoidia (472028) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162435)

And while your table is rocking away, so can your harddrives under your table. Check out this story [slashdot.org] on slashdot from a month ago, where a friend of mine turned some harddrives into speakers. Some people thought that was a hoax. Maybe now with this article, they might see that it's possible, and is so damn cool.

old hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162439)

stuff like this has been around for a long time. i had something like this about 10 years go.. was called "Disco Disc" or something. we'd drop em in the pool so you could hear music underwater. local rescue dive teams would use em too.

how old is the average /. reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3162440)

reading the article, it sounds like they're doing something (in a slightly newer way) that has been around since I was in college 10 years ago. basically you just attach a voice coil to a mass and stick it onto a wall. the voice coil attached to the stationary wall makes the mass want to move, but given the mass' inertia, it's actually easier to flex the wall and thus, produce noise.

also, I did something similar when I connected the + and - speaker wires to a small DC motor and placed it on top of my (metal) stereo case. when playing music it would kind of rattle and buzz but when I held it down, pressing it firmly onto the sheet metal case of my stereo, it stopped rattling and transmitted its energy to the case and actually gave off a surprisingly clear sound. response-wise, it only went up to a few kHz, but still, the idea is the same.

Imagine the Possibilities... (1)

Aaron_Pike (528044) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162443)

So I pop this thing onto a flat surface and the whole thing becomes a giant speaker? Imagine the possibilities...

Me: [sticks sucker on outside of meeting room wall] "PEOPLE OF EARTH, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE..."

Manufacturer's site (2)

drew_kime (303965) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162450)

They've also got some other applications for it listed here [terfenol.com] .

It works? (1)

cstrommen (254974) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162455)

Has anybody ever tried one of these things?
I'm just curious to find out how clear the sound is.. I don't know about you, but I'm having problems understanding how a desk made out of for instance tree is supposed to make clear and understandable sound (like from the radio etc).

Wrong Price is Posted Story (1)

NewbieSpaz (172080) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162465)

According to the article, it'll cost £49.99.

Re:Wrong Price is Posted Story (1)

NewbieSpaz (172080) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162468)

OOPS! Don't mind me, that price is for the mobile phone version, please disregard the above post. Haven't had my caffeine yet today.

Unique, yes...smart, no (1)

nochops (522181) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162469)

First of all, why would you want to put a speaker in a desk or table? I assume it's so that the ceiling can hear music, right? Speakers are usually placed vertically for a reason: To project the sound to your ears.

Second of all, is it really a good idea to put a transducer capable of point size 400lb. pressures on a piece of glass? In fact, pretty much all of the items they're talking about (desks, tables, windows, etc.) really weren't designed with this type of stress in mind.

Other stuff on the desk (2)

Tazzy531 (456079) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162472)

Sound travels in waves. So, I wonder how other stuff on the desk can affect the sound coming from it. I mean, my desk has 2 monitors, a laptop, books, beer bottles, papers. To use this, do I have to clear all that stuff off?

Can I attach it to my skull? (1)

joshtimmons (241649) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162473)

And make it play voices that tell me to do things?

Novelty or useful? (1)

kontos (560271) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162475)

This product sounds like it could be fun, but does anybody really want to use their wall/window/desk to produce sound on a full-time basis?

FT had the scoop in yesturday's IT edition (1)

forged (206127) | more than 12 years ago | (#3162478)

I read it yesturday in an article [ft.com] from IT edition of the Financial Times [ft.com] .
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>