UK firm FeONIC uses Terfenol-D - a 'smart', reactive material that expands and contracts at very high frequency when stimulated by a magnetic field, called 'magnetostriction' - to make any hard, flat surface into an audio speaker with perfect directional sound.
FeONIC's plate-glass Whispering Windows recently broadcast French Connection UK's FM radio station from its flagship Regent Street store. At the stand of architect Collett Zarzycki at the recent House & Gardens Show, FeONIC drove an entire large painting, including the board on which it was mounted and the glass.
The possibilities are limitless. A glass atrium or conservatory roof can become a sound generator, as can Gyproc plasterboard and even flooring.
A FeONIC device can also be used to mask external noise by acoustically changing a structure's audio capacity to render it less transparent to sound. Used with an actuator, this could allow buildings to 'listen' for aeroplanes or children or loud music and respond by temporarily increasing their acoustic resistance.
For more information visit www. whispering-windows. com, www. s3isound. com and www. feonicwindows. com