(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have developed a fabric that works like a microphone, converting sound first into mechanical vibrations and then into electrical signals, similar to how our ears hear.
This new fabric can not only hear your heartbeat, but also allows users to receive phone calls and text messages.
All tissues vibrate in response to audible sounds, although these vibrations, which are on the nanometer scale, are too small to be felt. To capture these subtle signals, the researchers created a flexible fiber that, when woven into fabric, flexes with it, like algae on the surface of the ocean.
How does the tissue that “hears” your body work?
The fiber is made of a piezoelectric material that generates an electrical signal when it is bent or mechanically deformed, allowing the tissue to convert sound vibrations into electrical signals.
The fabric can pick up sounds in the decibel range from the quiet atmosphere of a library to heavy traffic and pinpoint the exact direction from which sudden sounds, such as handclaps, have come.
Woven into the lining of a shirt, the fabric can detect the subtle features of the wearer’s heartbeat. The fibers can also be used to generate sound, such as the recording of spoken words, that other tissue can detect. In some ways, it resembles telepathy, only in a technological key.
“When you wear acoustic clothing, you can talk through it, answer phone calls and communicate with other people,” says lead author Wei Yan, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
“In addition, this fabric can seamlessly interact with human skin, allowing wearers to monitor their heart and respiratory status comfortably, continuously, in real time and in the long term.”
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