SOURCE: ITRI

ITRI , Industrial Technology Research Institute

October 13, 2009 14:21 ET

ITRI Introduces FleXpeaker, an Innovative, Award-Winning, Paper-Thin Speaker Technology

Thinnest, Lightest and Most Flexible Speaker Will Revolutionize Electronic Sound in Many Industries

HSINCHU, TAIWAN--(Marketwire - October 13, 2009) - ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), Taiwan's largest and one of the world's leading high-tech research and development institutions, introduces its FleXpeaker, a paper-thin flexible speaker technology. Researchers at ITRI devised a way to create arrays of tiny, bendable speakers that can be combined to produce high-fidelity speaker systems of almost any size using standard printing and can even be cut with scissors into any shape. This breakthrough in electronic sound will receive this year's 2009 Wall Street Journal Innovation Award in Consumer Electronics this evening.

FleXpeaker pioneers a new era in speakers and the electronic sound industry that will allow future consumer electronic products to become even lighter and slimmer. This technology is an effective, adaptable solution, for wired and wireless products alike, with extensive and enormous potential across a wide range of industries. In a car audio system, for example, the power consumption of the FleXpeaker is 90 percent less than that of traditional speakers, making it environmentally friendly.

Because FleXpeaker is flexible in size, lightweight and consumes less power, this disruptive technology can be used in car audio systems, flat-screen televisions, thin-sheet MP3 innovative applications, advertising (such as on billboards and in shopping malls) and public announcement systems in locations such as train stations. So far, the largest size FleXpeaker ITRI has produced is 2.5 m by 0.5 m. Additionally, it can be integrated into and extended to energy-saving buildings, electric vehicles, and entertainment and medical applications. Through special integration technology, FleXpeaker can also be incorporated into wearable clothing, wallpaper and consumer packaging.

With support from the technology project of Taiwan's Department of Industrial Technology of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, R&D of the paper-thin flexible speakers commenced in 2006. The team, led by ITRI's Vice President and General Director Dr. Yi-Jen Chan, of the Electronic & Optoelectronic Research Laboratories, utilized paper and metal layers as the material (with a thickness of less than 0.1 cm) and standard printing for speaker production. These speakers produce a high frequency sound of 20KHz and a low frequency of 200Hz. This range is especially suitable for expressing sophisticated changes in medium and high frequency ranges, such as the chirping of birds and insects, which are on par with traditional speakers.

The team has applied for 46 patents globally and published its technology papers at the largest display exhibition in the world, the U.S. Display Consortium (USDC), as well as at the Society for Information Display (SID), and in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America in 2009.

"We are pleased to introduce FleXpeaker technology to the global market and initiate a sea change in how industries will integrate sound into future products," said General Director Dr. Yi-Jen Chan." We plan to carry out technology transfer of large-size paper-thin flexible speaker mass production by early 2010 and complete R&D of the flexible transparent speakers in plastic material by 2010. ITRI is seeking to license the technology or create a spin-off company to commercialize the product. We expect FleXpeaker technology to be available for new B2B product development and licensing later this year. ITRI is currently in discussions with several American companies."

ITRI, headquartered in Taiwan, has offices in the United States, Japan, Russia and Germany in an effort to extend its R&D scope and promote opportunities for international cooperation. In the U.S., it has long-term collaborative arrangements with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. Globally, it has 23 international cooperations with major companies such as IBM, HP, Microsoft, Nokia, SunMicrosystems, Kodak, Lucent and Motorola.

To date, ITRI holds over 9,863 patents and has assisted in the creation of over 151 start-ups and spin-offs. In 2009, the institute has received four prestigious international awards: The Wall Street Journal's 2009 Technology Innovation Award for its FleXpeaker technology, an R&D 100 Award for the High Safety STOBA Lithium Battery Material Technology, the iF Design Award from the International Forum Design in Germany for ITRA's Fluid Driven Lighting System and the Red Dot Design Award by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany, for its Flexio Radio Technology.

About ITRI (www.itri.org.tw/eng)

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. Founded in 1973, ITRI has played a vital role in transforming Taiwan's economy from a labor-intensive industry to a high-tech industry. Numerous well-known high-tech companies in Taiwan, such as leaders in the semiconductor industry TSMC and UMC, can all trace their origins to ITRI.

Innovative Research

ITRI is a multidisciplinary research center, with six core laboratories, five focus centers, five linkage centers, several leading labs and various business development units. The six fields ITRI focuses on include Information and Communication; Electronics and Optoelectronics; Material, Chemical and Nanotechnologies; Biomedical Technologies; Advanced Manufacturing and Systems; and Energy and Environment. ITRI has aggressively researched and developed countless next-generation technologies, including WIMAX wireless broadband, solar cells, RFID, light electric vehicles, flexible displays, 3-D ICs and telecare technologies. In addition, ITRI's Flexible Electronics Pilot Lab and Nanotechnology Lab provide international-level research platforms where R&D can be conducted jointly with partners. ITRI has also seen significant growth in intellectual property business and new ventures in recent years and is devoted to creating a model that would make Taiwan manufacturing even more competitive in the international arena.

Fostering Entrepreneurship and CEO Leadership

ITRI employs 5,800 personnel, including 1,112 who hold Ph.D.s, and 3,206 with master's degrees, resulting in an average of five patents produced every day. By disseminating both technology and talent, ITRI has led the technology industry into the 21st century and has cultivated 70 CEOs in the local high-tech industry. In addition to its headquarters in Taiwan, ITRI has branch offices in the California Silicon Valley, Tokyo, Berlin and Moscow.

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