Scientists create fabric that can hear

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Scientists have created a piece of fabric that can hear.

He is able to transform a shirt, for example, into something like a microphone: converting sound into vibrations and electrical signals so that they can be recorded. It does this according to the same principles as the human ear.

And tissue hearing is incredibly accurate: it can pick up sounds ranging from a quiet library to a busy road, and even determine the direction of sudden sounds.

According to its creators, it could be used for a variety of purposes, including sewing it into clothing so they could hear their owner’s heartbeat.

“By wearing an acoustic garment, you can talk through it to answer phone calls and communicate with others,” said lead author Yet Wan, who created the technology at MIT.

“Additionally, this fabric can interface imperceptibly with human skin, allowing wearers to comfortably monitor their cardiac and respiratory status in a continuous, real-time, and long-term manner.”

Tissues all vibrate in response to sound, although these vibrations are usually weak and imperceptible. Generally, their primary relationship to noise is to attenuate it, and they have historically been used as sound deadeners in spaces that want to minimize leaks or echoes.

The new study reimagines tissue’s response to sound, however. The researchers made it out of a material that turns any movement of the fabric into an electrical signal – and it can do that with sounds.

In testing, the fabric was able to pick up a wide variety of sounds, vibrating in proportion to the noises occurring around it. “This shows that the performance of the fiber on the membrane is comparable to that of a handheld microphone,” said Grace Noel, co-author of the paper.

They then wove this acoustic fabric in more traditional yarns, creating a piece of textile that could be draped and washed like traditional fabric.

Researchers described it as a lightweight jacket, somewhere between denim and a dress shirt in terms of weight.

Even when transformed into wearable fabric – by being sewn into the back of a shirt – he could pick up the sound of people cheering around him. He was able to find the angle at which they were clapping, within one degree, from three meters away.

Researchers have suggested a multitude of possible options for using the fabric in practice: hearing aids, clothes that can communicate, fabrics that can track the bodily reactions of the people who wear them, and other possibilities ranging even beyond traditional clothing.

“It can be embedded in the skin of a spacecraft to listen to (accumulation) of space dust, or embedded in buildings to detect cracks or deformations,” Yan said in a statement. “It can even be woven into a smart net to monitor fish in the ocean. Fiber opens up vast opportunities.

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