Surround sound system “on paper”: what was printed at the Technical University of Chemnitz

While alone remember ambisonic projects from 80s magazines, others develop, modernize and bring them to working prototypes. For example, this is how the specialists of the Chemnitz Technical University act. Here’s where they started and what they did this time.

Photo: Kelly Sikkema.  Source:
Photo: Kelly Sikkema. Source:

First tee-book

The concept of a music book or postcard is hardly new. Implementation is another matter. As the T-Book project shows, it may not be entirely standard and imply a complete absence of visible acoustic elements and sensors. This effect was achieved by the same group of specialists from the University of Chemnitz back in 2015. Three years before that she suggested technology of “musical paper” – T-Paper [Tone paper], and then integrated the audio system directly into the pages of the printed edition with full graphics and text.

The prototype was powered by rechargeable batteries, reproduced matching tracks on multiple spreads and has won several awards at conferences and science festivals.

The technology made it possible to print layer by layer for him piezoelectric emitting elements and interested the public in terms of potential applications in other industries. However, then the production of flexible acoustics with its help could not be fully automated – the printing process was too laborious and not the most efficient in terms of time and resources. Therefore, the group decided to continue working on the project.

Updated T-Paper

Earlier this year in a well-known scientific publication Advanced Materials came out article with the results of upgrading T-Paper to full roll technology [roll-to-roll, R2R]… The new project was attended by specialists from six industries – from acoustics to electrical engineering.

They not only improved the initial design, but were also able to adapt related technologies – for example, for the laminating of functional layers. So it became possible to prepare products in various form factors, which the developers themselves took advantage of.

Image: John Baer.  Source:
Image: John Baer. Source:

Prototype surround sound system made in the form of a closed ring. It was called the T-Ring – similar to the T-Book. The surface was divided into seven segments, 56 emitters were printed on them. The prototype weight was 141 grams, the circumference was 387 cm.

What’s next

This printing technology and acoustics can be used in a variety of applications – from exhibitions to offices and open spaces where you need to tidy up “ecosystem of sound“. By the way, Hacker News immediately remembered a similar projectwho never raised enough funds in a Kickstarter fundraising campaign about four years ago.

Time will show what the future holds for the development of engineers from Germany, but for now we have prepared a small selection of materials about unusual acoustics from our “Hi-Fi World”:

PS On Habré we have reviews of available “monitors” for working with sound and multimedia.

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