Turning your wall into a speaker

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The Independent Online
IT BEGAN with a British scientist's quest to understand why modern military aircraft have noisier cockpits. The answer means that from this weekend, you can replace your bulky speakers with a wafer-thin pair which can be hung on the wall.

But that's only the start, according to Jon Vizor, marketing director of NXT, a British audio company.

"Think how many speakers there are in your home - the clock radio, TV set, transistor radio. We will be able to provide speakers for all of those."

The sound, too, amazes first-time listeners: it appears to come from everywhere.

The technology, based on the solution of a complex mathematical problem, means that you can make any solid surface, from a credit card to a cinema screen, into a loudspeaker.

The answer to the question of why the cockpits of modern aircraft are so noisy, is that the canopy acts like a loudspeaker. By applying that finding - which requires the solution to a complex mathematical equation including eight or so variables - to rigid surfaces, Henry Azima and Neil Harris, two British mathematicians, discovered the new way to make a loudspeaker.