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A fabric that “hears” your heart's sounds
21 July 2022

The team has designed a fabric that works like a microphone, converting sound first into mechanical vibrations, then into electrical signals, similarly to how our ears hear.

 

All fabrics vibrate in response to audible sounds, though these vibrations are on the scale of nanometers — far too small to ordinarily be sensed. To capture these imperceptible signals, the researchers created a flexible fiber that, when woven into a fabric, bends with the fabric like seaweed on the ocean’s surface.

 

The fiber is designed from a “piezoelectric” material that produces an electrical signal when bent or mechanically deformed, providing a means for the fabric to convert sound vibrations into electrical signals.

 

The fabric can capture sounds ranging in decibel from a quiet library to heavy road traffic, and determine the precise direction of sudden sounds like handclaps. When woven into a shirt’s lining, the fabric can detect a wearer’s subtle heartbeat features. The fibers can also be made to generate sound, such as a recording of spoken words, that another fabric can detect.

 

More: news.mit.edu

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