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Soft Sound – Textiles as electroacoustic transducers

Created by EJTECH (Esteban de la Torre and Judit Eszter Kárpáti), ‘Soft Sound’ is practice-led research that combines textiles with sound to explore possibilities for encountering, enhancing and exploring multi-sensory experiences.

The project explores the relationship between textile and sound, focusing on the idea of using textile as an audio emitting surface. Creating soft speakers and embedding it onto fabric in order to emanate sonic vibrations, not only will we perceive audio through hearing, but due to the pulsating nature of sound, the host textile will reverberate as well, throbbing, allowing us to perceive sound through touch.

By creating different shapes of flat copper and silver coils by laser cutting, vinyl cutting then applying them onto different textile surfaces and running and alternating current through it, the team created textile soft speakers. They are connected to an amplifier in order to enhance the signal, as well as the utmost proximity of a permanent magnet in order to force the coil back and forth as described by Faradays law of induction, causing the textile attached to the coil to respond with a rapid back and forth motion that creates sound waves. The speakers properties will vary according to the stiffness of the textile it is applied to, as well as the tightness of the coil itself. A balance between the magnets size, strength and the distance between these is important to achieve the desired effectiveness.

Implementing both traditional and technological approaches and the result of connecting these mediums – textile and sound, music – together into an interdisciplinary integrative concept was crucial to achieve a successful result. After a long experimentation process we created working protoypes instead of only visual concepts or speculative design.

The intent for Soft Sound is to be used as a material innovation for textile structure in contemporary interior structure design. For example, a modular sound emitting textile display with vibrotactile capabilities, focused on the examination of spatial elements through acoustics, with the ability to be built into any scale, opens numerous possibilities for the implementation and use of this application. This technology can also be applied to everyday traditional textile uses. From interior textiles, home textiles, for wall coverings, space dividiers, decorations and clothing textile for wearable technology.

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