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Inflatable Loudspeakers 207

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the roadie-unions-promise-boycott dept.
fm6 sent in an article running at New Scientist talking about new technology that allows Inflatable Loud Speakers. The technology is apparently patented and there's not a lot of technical details, but I have to say the concept amuses me. And I somehow doubt that this technology will ever be used in high fidelity home systems.
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Inflatable Loudspeakers

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  • you need to blow air into for it to play sounds...
    Flute, anyone?
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:14PM (#2417430) Homepage
    This should go great with my inflateable couch, pillows, and girl :)

    All I need now is an inflateable stero and some inflateable CDs. Seriously though, how cool is this? And wouldn't it be awesome to inflate/deflate them while their ON? Bet that would sound awesome.

  • Poor roadies? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dimer0 (461593) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:18PM (#2417443)
    Since when do roadies complain of back problems? Is this opening the doors up to elderly women who want to travel with bands and set up stages? A 4x12 cabinet is not that heavy at all, some even have wheels, and most of them have handles. They're not awkward. I used to lug mine around when I was a 120 pound stick in high school.. Ah well.

    Also, if these things are so light, it would be funny to see the speakers push so much air that the air-cabinet starts floating away.. I wouldn't dare stack these things, a gust of wind could stop a concert..

    This definitely didn't have to change.. I just hope it's a proof of concept, and they'll find something better to apply this technology to at a later time.. (Pool speakers???)
    • Re:Poor roadies? (Score:3, Informative)

      by fgodfrey (116175)
      You obviously haven't tried stacking a medium to large sized PA. I've helped set up stacks of TurboSound speakers 3 high/3 wide + subs (ok, I know, that's not an enormous setup, but it's not for your bedroom either) and while they have wheels, they are quite awkward and heavy. However, I strongly suspect that these speakers will sound pretty bad at high volumes when the bladder starts to vibrate, but hey, I could be wrong. They would certainly look interesting, though :)
      • Re:Poor roadies? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Kinetix303 (471831)
        Yeah, I used to set up raves and concerts with 16 S4 boxes and I thought those were hell.... then moved on to kits with 16 DAS RF-215s and 16 custom Dual JBL 18" in DAS cabinets and I thought those were hell. Then we moved to EAW stacks, which were seemingly endless and seemingly infinitely heavy.

        What we decided was that the most efficient way for roadies to lift and setup large kits was just to numb our bodies by quickly slamming back three beers and running to install the gear in that period where we were numb but before we got clumsy.

        Worked like a charm.
    • by spudnic (32107)
      Actually you may have hit upon a great idea... Fill them up with helium and let the speakers float above the crowd! Talk about trippy.

      Quick, patent it!

      • Fill them up with helium and let the speakers float above the crowd! Talk about trippy.

        Gotta wonder what helium-filled speakers would sound like, though...

        "Whoa, duuude! These guys are, like, Alvin and the Chipmunks!"
        "Nah, dude, that's just the new speakers."
        "Far out!"

      • Screw Helium, let's fill'em up with Hydrogen and paint with some aluminum paint (the more explosive the better) at the end of a concert an electric spark must be set on the speakers' surface so that the speakers must burst into flames and blow up, now that's enterntainment!
    • Re:Poor roadies? (Score:3, Informative)

      by kfg (145172)
      Most of them, actually. It is, litrally, backbreaking work.

      Bear in mind also that speakers often have to be hauled to *hights.* The wheels are useless then. With inflatables you haul could haul 'em up deflated and inflate them in place. Windage wouldn't be a problem, they would be cabled in place, * just as they are now.*

      One more factor is space. Did you know that when you buy a box of breakfast cereal the cereal itself only costs you about a quarter? Transporting the BOX takes up much of the rest of the price. A Smaller and lighter transport package means less space and fuel needed just to haul the buggers around.

      I have hauled my own PA. It's a pain in the neck, back and elsewhere. I'd love an inflatable rig.

      I've also worked on a professional crew, and let me tell you, hauling your own PA around is NOTHING compared to hauling in, setting up, and hauling out, two truckloads of speakers, day, after day, after day.

      Come to think of it, I've never known a roadie who DIDN'T complain of back trouble. It's the main reason for retirement.

      KFG
    • Also, if these things are so light, it would be funny to see the speakers push so much air that the air-cabinet starts floating away..
      Looks like the roadies still have a job, they'll just need a lot more duct tape!

      If you shift the frequency of the sound down a bit (maybe with a bit of compression too) pumping the sound out of helium filled speakers shouldn't be a problem.

      • Um? I don't think filling the speakers with helium would change the frequency the speaker operates at because thats driven by an electronic occilator of some sort. Anyways you would fill the bladders with helium, not the rest of the cabinet.

        I am fairly certain that the phenomina that causes our voices to get higher pitched when we inhale helium and then talk would not affect speakers filled with helium since the gas would have no part in driving the cones.

  • If they were waterproof, or water-resistant, they'd be very popular with outdoor venues - don't have to worry too much about the rain that way. That said, if they were waterproof, there'd be some moron trying to use them in his swimming pool.
    • From the article it appears that the inflatable part is the box. The drivers are mounted on a board that has several air bladders attached to it in case one pops during the conert. Now who would make a game of popping the speaker cases at a concert? Hmmmm?

  • Helium? (Score:5, Funny)

    by infinite9 (319274) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:21PM (#2417460)
    If you fill them with helium, will your music sound like the chipmonks?
    • Ohhhh.... that's an absurdly easy way to store your speakers in an out of the way place. Mobile flying speakers!
    • If you fill them with helium, will your music sound like the chipmonks?


      Surprisingly enough, yes it will. Helium is lighter than air - less dense. The reduced density would raise the pitch accordingly.

      • Would it? The sound waves might possibly travel faster through helium because they don't have to vibrate as much mass, but would it change the pitch? The pitch is the vibrational velocity of the medium. I don't see how just a lighter medium would cause the pitch to rise.

        Or to put it another way, the cone of the speaker is moving the gas at a certain rate. What would cause the gas to accelerate to a different rate?

        Now, it's possible that you would get better high range out of the speaker in a lighter medium, because the speaker doesn't have to move as much mass. Just like I can vibrate a feather about the same rate as a small rock, but I couldn't vibrate a 5 pound weight very quickly.

        • Upon further consideration, I believe you're right. The sound itself travelling through the lighter medium doesn't raise the pitch. It's the fact that the speakers are driving a lighter medium that would do the trick. F=ma, and the force would be the same, moving regular air or lighter air. The decrease in mass would increase the acceleration -> higher velocity (v=at). This assumes that things like throw, etc. are the same.


          This is why you sound higher when you inhale helium also. Your lungs = speakers in this example, moving lighter air.

          • I really don't think this is the same at all.

            In the speakers you have an electronic driver that hits a particular frequency based on the timings of the circuit.

            In the case of your lungs you have a string driven by the gas itself. I don't exactly know what causes the string (your vocal cords) in this case to vibrate faster but it has to do with the interaction of the gas and the cords. In the speakers you would just get a wierd response because the pressures on each side would be different.

  • "Ellula's speakers resemble brightly coloured audio beach balls and are aimed at the home, for use with portable stereos and computers." They're ones to talk about things being awkward..imagine having beachballs for speakers. As if our desks weren't unstable and crowded enough already, we now have the option of using brightly colored beach balls for speakers..just great if you have kids..they'd spike the 'beach ball' into another room!
    • This makes absolutely no sense to me. Inflatables are clearly a pointless gimmik for most home use.

      The Greatful Dead, on the other hand, might well have loved these things to pieces. Literally.

      KFG
  • spEakers (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Matrix12 (242932)
    This technology would be great for rave parties. Inflatable speakers would transport easily, and be easy to leave behind. And you could shoot lasers and lights through them ;)

    Good for clubs, and gigging in general, I guess.

    .\\12
  • patented? (Score:2, Funny)

    by stickb0y (260670)
    The technology is apparently patented and there's not a lot of technical details

    I thought the patent process requires that the inventor disclose information about how the product works, and after the patent expires the public can use it freely. Isn't it opposed to a trade secret, where the inventor doesn't get protection if someone else reverse-engineers the product or happens to invent the same thing independently?

  • by MagnaMark (468484) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:22PM (#2417465)

    A speaker driver is mounted in a flat, rigid board bonded to a large bladder. When the bladder is inflated, it expands to form a box shape resembling a speaker cabinet.

    I'd like to see the first time someone tries to dramatically smash their guitar against the speakers at the end of a set.

  • from the article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:23PM (#2417472) Homepage Journal
    Inflatable loudspeakers could blow out roadies
    so now rock bands will want to set up there own system? including filling them full of air? what about the speaker itself, will that suddenly get lighter?

    talk about trying to market to a problem that doesn't exist, sheeesh.

    if all things are equal(same sound quality, etc,etc,etc...) then there only advantage is less storage space. Which is a cost savings advantge.

  • those impromptu van parties! Gotta have sound? No problem... you're at the beach anyhow, blowing up rafts and such, why not just toss in the speakers with 'em?

    Of course, you may run into trouble with those knife-wielding locals who stop by to "ask you nicely to turn it down"... oops, we lost another one, better get the pump out again. Anybody got a tire patch?

    Today must be silly invention day; first we've got those funky cell phones, then the uber-watch that runs Linux, now inflatable speakers to go with it all... I'd better stock up on my geek t-shirts now :-)

  • This will come in handy if Good year ever brings back the XAO-3 Inflatoplane [nasm.edu]

  • And no one has mentioned filling them with helium yet...how disappointed I am! Watch them speakers float around...lol. For those tripping it'd be even more amusing.
  • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...!

    No, really. A set of them, inflated with helium and suspended with cables...could make for quite the sound experience. Also imagine the possibilities of using them in urban areas in emergency situations where information may need to be conveyed to a large amount of people.
  • by Alien54 (180860) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:27PM (#2417493) Journal
    And I thought that the story line in Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com] was a joke

    Now I am starting to get scared.

  • by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:28PM (#2417499) Homepage
    I'll to get some to entertain my *inflate* *inflate* girlfriend..
  • And if you want your bass to go boom, you over-inflate them.
  • blown speakers. Guffaw.
  • Literally.

    Extra lame stuff to pass the lameness filter.
  • Soundtube (Score:2, Informative)

    by aethera (248722)
    I've worked with some SoundTube products before. They were excellent. We used thew in several hanging locations and on the ground in theme parks, so they received a 70 volt distributed PA signal. They played a mix of classical and pop music all day. Sound quality was not excellent, but certainly very good. They were very power efficient and very durable. Bats, Birds, Bees, rain, manure, even lawnmovers attacked these things on a daily basis and they still worked great. One of the nicest outdoor PA speakers I ever worked with.
  • by Bud Dwyer (527622) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:35PM (#2417524) Homepage
    And I somehow doubt that this technology will ever be used in high fidelity home systems.

    I fancy myself something of an audiophile, and I can say with all certainty that the inflatable loudspeaker is the most exciting new development in the home audio world of the last 5 years.


    Last month's issue of Home Audiophile Review carried an interesting article on the possiblities of the new, inflatable enclosures. Essentially, we will be able to get distortion down to unheard of low levels. The possiblities presented by speaker enclosures in novel shapes is also interesting. Imagine a spherical, or for that matter, tetrahedral, enclosure. You can't do that with wood. Another plus: the enclosures could be filled with nitrogen so as to minimize corrosion of the internal speaker components, thus lengthening product-life and improving sound quality.

    • Bull Shit (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HEbGb (6544) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @07:05PM (#2417605)
      I don't believe it for a minute.

      Distortion down to 'unheard of low levels'? Hype city. There is absolutely no plausible mechanism to support this claim. As for transdcuer shapes, such as tetrahedral, it's almost completely irrelevant as far as sound quality goes.

      Loudspeakers don't have a limited lifetime because of corrosion. It's usually fatigue of the constituent materials, of which an inflatable plastic would certainly be about the worst.

      These might be a good gimmick, but nothing more. I think their egos need a bit of deflating.

      They're apparently using NXT flat panel techniques. No wonder this is so full of mindless hype.
    • Re:To the contrary (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kwhilden (25492)
      As a very dedicated audiophile, I can't imagine that inflatable speakers could sound good at all. Can you say uncontrolled cabinet resonance? The biggest problem with wooden box speakers is the resonance from the wood creating unwanted coloration in the sound. I don't think it is possible to brace an inflatable speaker enough to reduce resonance to any significant degree.

      As far as building tetrahedral speakers out of wood, check out these from Acoustic Reality [av-reality.com]. I happen to own a pair, and resonance control is outstanding. They also sound great and are very cheap by audiophile standards.

      btw, I am audiophile lunatic... ugh.
      KW
    • Um...

      The only reason you'd want a spherical enclosure is because the _outside_ of a sphere produces the evenest response. Unfortunately the inside is the single worse shape for an enclosure you could have.

      Plus, in general terms, wall rigidity is enormously important for a speaker enclosure. Now, there's two sides to this: on the one hand you want vibrations to be damped down effectively, and in this the inflatable might even wind up with some advantages. Unfortunately the other side is that walls are rigid for a reason.

      You could do a dipole this way by using the inflatable for the back wave, but there's barely any difference between that and NO enclosure at all. These equate to just the driver sitting there. The worst aspect, bar none, is bass and dynamic impact. Treble, diffraction and cabinet coloration might be improved somewhat over cheap plywood- but at what cost?

      Sorry- you've been spun. These aren't the speakers you've been looking for. Move along..

    • <sniffs bait>
      <notes hook in bait>
      <hears trolling motor on boat floating above>
      <ignores bait>

      Good one.
    • You mean this Home Audiophile Review" [google.com]?

      Yea. Right.

      --Ben
    • >Another plus: the enclosures could be filled with nitrogen so as to minimize corrosion of the internal speaker components... [snip]

      hmm.. fill with Helium, and let float on a string? should give good acoustic decoupling. On the other hand.. Bach on Helium *shiver*

      //rdj

  • Hmm. Seems to me, this solves the problem of how to get those heavy speakers set up for bands.

    But another intriguing use would be for California and Florida - pool stereo systems. Just get a good protected cable and a splash guard with drain, and float the system in the pool.

    Man, that would make one cool video!

  • to: Damn - I just Blew a Speaker!

    Seriously, I (as a musician with a little experience building cabinets for 18" and smaller drivers), seem to remember that the heavier, the better - at least for Bass Enclosures.

    I doubt there is a valid market.

    The day has passed since JBL rocked with alnico magnets - you could walk into a music store with a notepad and tape measure, then go back you your garage and cut up some 3/4" or 5/8" particle board, and save big bucks. No patent infringement - I didn't sell 'em - no, really! ;-)

  • This would be a benefit to my brother's track club as instead of having to assemble and store clunky hard shell speakers, we can inflate these speakers and I doubt they'd take very much space.

    It would be a benefit to me too as I am usually the one who has to set up such things.
  • Now all we need are inflatable music-making-devices and we can have a party in a bag!

    How about creating a new form of boat parties where you ship out and set up the speakers floating in the water and you can swim around the sound for a totally Debussy-esque experience.

    How about one of those bouncy inflatable houses that you see at fairs? We could have the COMPLETELY inflated house! (No golf shoes please)
  • by The Iconoclast (24795) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:39PM (#2417544)
    Pump up the Jam! Pump it Up! Pump it UP!!
  • by dwlemon (11672) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:39PM (#2417545)
    "..rock groups need roadies to hump.."

    No. Those are groupies.
  • by chthonicphage (125011) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:44PM (#2417554) Homepage
    Patent Number: WO0154541 (UK)
    Publication date: 2001-08-02
    Inventor(s): WIENER DAVID
    Applicant(s):: SOUNDTUBE ENTERTAINMENT INC (US)

    A speaker assembly (100) is provided including a rigid front speaker mounting element (102) defining at least one speaker mounting opening (103), at least one speaker driver (104) coupled to the at least one speaker mounting opening (103) of the speaker mounting element (102), at least one flexible bladder (106) at least partially forming the sides and rear of the enclosure and coupled to the speaker mounting element (102), and a valve (108) coupled to the flexible bladder (106). The flexible bladder (108) has a first wall portion (110) and a second wall portion (112) defining a substantally air-tight interior space (114) therebetween and may take any desired shape when inflated. Together, the speaker mounting element (102) and the bladder (106) form at least one interior chamber (116) at least partially surrounding the speaker driver (104). The valve (108), which provides a substantially air-tight seal when closed, is in fluid communication with the interior space of the flexible bladder (106) and can be used for inflation and deflation of the bladder (106). The bladder (106) is inflatable by providing either pressurized gas or expandable foam within the interior space. Alternatively, the bladder may be formed as a plurality of independently inflatable cells, or may be evacuatably-formed from a material having shape retaining memory properties. After use, the bladder (106) enclosure may be removed from the speaker mounting elemet (102), and deflated for reuse, or disposed of.
    • Explanation for those who don't speak patent-ese:

      Take a piece of plywood. Cut a hole, mount a speaker on the front. Now, build a plastic/rubber bladder/balloon to attach to the sides, so that your now have a "box shape" - optionally with side "arms" to hold the edges forming the sides ridged. Add a valve and pump it up.

      In other words, the bladder forms the structure to hold the speaker up, and the plywood panel serves to have a place to mount the speaker.

      Bet I know what it sounds like, too - CRAP! This is basically a "boxless" or "baffless" design - where the panel is just a speaker mounting point, not much else (keeps a little sound from radiating forward). Grab a speaker design book from the 50s, early 60s, and you will see this design. Even then it sucked, just not as bad because speakers in general weren't that great.

      These "blow-up" speakers might be OK if the bladder is of a sufficiently thick material, and it is kept at a high pressure level, but they won't be "great"...
  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:45PM (#2417555)
    Think of all the bands that can't afford to fly their equipment around. Now they could.

    I bet there is some really interesting things that could be done with this technology.

    For instance, could you change the response of the speakers by adding more air pressure inside of the enclosure? Seems like you could easily tune for each song if you wanted to.
  • by crucini (98210) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:46PM (#2417563)
    The audio world is crawling with hopeful inventors who don't understand much about sound and electro-accoustics. I've had the privilege of seeing many of these "inventions" first hand. The article failed to address the key issue behind "inflatable speakers": rigidity. In a vented box, which is the most common type of low-frequency and very-low-frequency system, the walls need to be pretty rigid to prevent distortion and energy loss. If these inventors have some way to make a balloon as rigid as 3/4" birch plywood with closely spaced transverse braces, the article doesn't mention it.

    The only kinds of speaker enclosure that aren't concerned with rigidity are those that simply enclose rigid horns made of fibreglas, plastic or wood. In these situations, the enclosure merely protects the components from dust, water and damage and does not serve an accoustic funciton. JBL among others has realized this and is making a series of touring speakers which are simply frames of metal tubing with no side walls. Again, inflatable walls would add nothing to such a system.

    As for the "beach ball" idea, this can be interpreted in two different ways, due to the lack of detail in the article. If you make a conventional (sealed or vented box) speaker system with spherical form, it will have a sharp resonant peak related to the diameter of the sphere. This peak can be reduced by increasing the absorbent material inside the enclosure, but still reflects a design mistake. A sphere is the worst possible shape for a conventional speaker enclosure. A second application of a sphere is to place it in front of a speaker (possibly a tweeter) creating in effect a radial horn. By careful positioning, two or even three transducers could share one sphere. An inflated beach ball could work for high and even mid frequencies. As the frequency gets lower, however, the need for rigidity of the sphere increases. In general, the sphere should be hard and rigid.

    Such a system will never work as well as separate, properly designed horns for the separate transducers. Its only benefit is visual gimmickry and possible cost savings.
    • Just because they are LOUDspeakers doesn't mean they have to be QUALITY speakers. They just have to be LOUD.
    • If these inventors have some way to make a balloon as rigid as 3/4" birch plywood with closely spaced transverse braces, the article doesn't mention it.

      I think most of us probably have an image of some cheap inflatable pool float, but we don't really know what materials this is made out of or what pressure it is inflated to. Put it this way, what if the enclosure were made of tire rubber and inflated to 250 pounds pressure, with cross braces etc? It would probably be pretty rigid.

      Now, I doubt that scenerio that I just laid out would give you any weight or cost savings, but it's an idea of how this might go if that used more interesting materials. :)

    • Patent and secrecy issues prevent these details coming out, so you might be right that this is BS, but...

      Some pretty incredible advances have been made in flat panel speakers AND in producing rigid inflatable structures (space, life saving equipment, temporary structural supports in the construction industry) which, if brought together COULD give the kind of rigidity needed to make some QUITE loud low frequency speakers.

      New materials offering incredible strength can be inflated to high pressures with minimal distortion, and be heat sealed into pretty complex shapes - so the kind of bracing needed wouldn't be a problem. Most of these, however, are manufactured using complex multi stage processes basing on a woven substructure with plastic coatings. Great - but expensive.

      I agree, however, that the article in the New Scientist certainly fals below their usual high standards by skipping over ALL of the obvious questions with the lame old 'they wont say'. If they won't say how it works, how do we know this isn't just BS?
  • In my church, they would be easy to hang from the top of the ceiling. (I can't imagine what it's like lifting a 30lb speaker all the way up there!)

    For outdoor concerts, they could be filled with helium, and allowed to float. Wouldn't it be awesome to see the speakers fluttering in the wind!

    And, in my living room, I might get 5 small ones to hang from my ceiling fan.

    I can't wait!
  • Inflatable amps and mixers! Maybe even rack-mount inflatable effects, and instruments too. It would bring on a new wave of "air guitar" players.
  • Finally! What I want is one those Washington Redskins Blow-up chairs that come with their own inflatable pump with BUILT IN sound!

    Now watching games with dad is twice the fun!

    Booyah.
    -Paul
  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @06:53PM (#2417575) Journal
    If you could make speakers and enclosures out of lightweight materials, it would have been done long before now.

    They're made out of 3/4th-inch plywood to take the stress of constant packing and unpacking.

    I predict the first tour that tries to use these things will end up with what looks like the first all-duct-tape speaker enclosures by the end of the trip.

    --Blair
    • They're made out of 3/4th-inch plywood to take the stress of constant packing and unpacking.
      Close, but not quite. 3/4" ply is the thinnest plywood that won't easily resonate. Any vibration or flexing of a cabinet's sides detracts from the acoustic efficiency of the cabinet.

      Some companies also use carbon fiber, and some have tried plastics and honeycomb-core materials, to varied success.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    those kids in their souped up hot-air balloon, flying all around the block, with their rap music blaring... You can hear the bass for miles...

    There used to be a time when the sound those kids could make was limited to volume/carrying capacity of a honda civic.
  • They'll never be as comfortable as a lilo
  • It looks like from the article that these speakers are designed to be used for touring concerts. If these are high enough quality for that, I should hope they would be high enough quality for a home system.
  • Where exactly are the inflatable speaker wires going to plug into?
  • Hype city (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HEbGb (6544) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @07:13PM (#2417623)
    I think it's time to deflate the hype surrounding these things a bit.

    They basically use an inflatable structure (not unlike a beachball) as a loudspeaker enclosure, and attach a flat-panel loudspeaker to the front. Voila.

    Performance of these will be questionable, at best, and they will certainly not have the performance they're claiming. Utter nonsense. They've provided absolutely nothing to support their claims.

    Loudspeaker enclosured are designed to be rigid for a reason - they're essentially used as baffles and resonant structures, that, when properly designed, will provide a reliable, efficient, output of sound. An inflatable loudspeaker will not have any rigidity, thereby eliminating its use as a baffle, and severely diminishing low frequency performance. Second, the fact that the air will be expected to leak over time will change the resonant structure significantly, eliminating any possibility of consistent performance, if it even could be attained in the first place.

    Now, an inflatable loudspeaker might be a nice gimmick, but it will absolutely not be a performance product. Not even close.

    This is all hype, folks, nothing to see here - move along.

    Oh, they're apparently VC funded? Go figure with the outlandish claims!
  • looks like my blow up doll can now react to what i give it!
  • this'll be great for lan parties, some camping bitch annoys you, just pop his speakers.
  • hear a needle falling ...

    another dimension to blowing-the-speakers-out!

    *boom*
  • I recall reading in some book about "Design for the real world" about putting cheap speakers into the faces of a dodecahedron produces good sound. Nothing came of that, and I doubt if anything will come of this.

    I think it has more to do with buyer perception than gee-whiz technology, although it could have some application for bands on the road or PA events.

  • PR stuff on the retail version:Inflatable sound system blows the opposition away [lboro.ac.uk]
  • I thought the point of loudspeakers was to blow out MUSIC...or did this mean that "inflatable loudspeakers could blow out [of] roadies" (yuck!)? I guess the latter would solve the question of how to inflate the speakers.

    Their multiple-bladder design reminds me of the Titanic - see how well THAT concept held water/air/whatever...
  • But, but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fear the Clam (230933) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @07:26PM (#2417669)
    What will raveGrrrls stand on top of to dance? What will dweebBoyz jump from to crowd surf? My whole '90s world -- gone!

    At least I'll always have my tribal tattoo.
  • In a multi bladder system, this seems like it would give good absorption of energy, and add structure and weight to the system, which would be useful in an outdoor/windy/explosion prone environment. The article doesn't mention that as part of their plan, but I wonder if it would be of any sonic benefit.
  • Man I want this (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mini me (132455)
    This would complement car audio nicely! No need to fill up your entire trunk with a sub box, just inflate when you need it and it will pack away nicely when you don't.
  • by guidobot (526671) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @07:54PM (#2417732)
    There's actually already an inflatable acoustic guitar [chrysalisguitars.com] on the market, I've played it and it works very well. My ex-girlfriend was going to work for the guy making them, but the company is quite poor and couldn't afford to pay her. He was a real nice guy though, and had been trying to make one since 1979. Its based on the physics of an insect wing... there's quite a lot of information about it on the site mentioned above.

    Anyways, don't discount the inflatable speakers as things that wouldn't work... these guitars worked really well. I saw them first in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts...

  • If I attach one to my bladder, what will happen?

    Seriously though, the real question is, how ungodly much are they going to charge for these? Anyone who can glue rubber together should be able to build them, once someone spends some brainpower and computer time on making them out of readily available materials. (You'll have to do some serious modeling to figure out how the inflatable portion will react with the sound.) But it would be preferable if you could get them cheaply, already made.

    Right now, for raves in inconvenient locations, the effort is compounded by the need to truck out large, heavy speakers and find a stable place to put them which is out of the mud, or sand, or what have you. Large band venues which require large speakers also are designed to facilitate such things, with loading docks and so on, so while this could be cool there too, it's not as exciting.

    The ellula sounds product line is pretty paltry and not at all exciting. You can pick up altec lansing sets with a nice subwoofer and a couple satellites for $50. Who cares about using this technology for small speakers? They're already lightweight and cheap. I want to see some BIG mofos.

  • I wonder how blow up dolls are gonna benefit from this?
  • Ellula Sounds Ltd. (Score:3, Informative)

    by frantzdb (22281) on Thursday October 11, 2001 @09:13PM (#2418039) Homepage
    The article mentions Ellula Sounds Ltd. (not to be confused with EULA). A quick google search gives an article with a picture [lboro.ac.uk]. See also Ellula's corporate page [ellulasounds.co.uk].

    --Ben
  • "...new technology that allows Inflatable Loud Speakers..."

    I'm sorry, but this technology has been around for many years. It's called a "whoopee cushion." :-P

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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