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Scientist: New cloth can listen and make sounds

By Catholic Online
July 13th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Clothes make the man - or woman - and they soon may be able to do all the talking for them as well. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a cloth that can hear and emit noise.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -  The team of scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have reached "a new milestone on the path to functional fibers: fibers that can detect and produce sound."

As reported in the August issue of Nature Materials, the procedure transforms the usual passive nature of textiles into one that responds to the surrounding environment.

The implications for the development of the specially sensitive fiber means that "applications could include clothes that are themselves sensitive microphones, for capturing speech or monitoring bodily functions, and tiny filaments that could measure blood flow in capillaries or pressure in the brain."

Scientists say the new miracle fiber can listen - and talk back. "You can actually hear them, these fibers," researcher Noemie Chocat says.

"If you connected them to a power supply and applied a sinusoidal current, then it would vibrate. And if you make it vibrate at audible frequencies and put it close to your ear, you could actually hear different notes or sounds coming out of it.

"In addition to wearable microphones and biological sensors, applications of the fibers could include loose nets that monitor the flow of water in the ocean and large-area sonar imaging systems with much higher resolutions," MIT says.

"A fabric woven from acoustic fibers would provide the equivalent of millions of tiny acoustic sensors."

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