On September 14th, the Wall Street Journal announced Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) as the consumer electronics winner of its 2009 Technology Innovation Awards for its revolutionary paper-thin flexible loudspeaker. In development since 2006, ITRI, a national research organization supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, came out on top against such heavyweights as HP, Livescribe, Motorola and 500 international competitors in the consumer-electronics category. This was the first win for Taiwan’s ITRI at this competition.
In awarding ITRI, the WSJ said, “Researchers at ITRI devised a way to create arrays of tiny speakers that can be combined to produce a high-fidelity speaker system of almost any size. Because the FleXpeaker is lightweight and consumes little power, it could be attractive for use in cellphones or in car sound systems. Other possible applications include giant banners that could be used to deliver public-service announcements in train stations or advertising messages in shopping malls.”
Since its inception nine years ago, the WSJ Technology Innovation Awards has been much coveted. Each year, products are judged by 16 international judges from reputed research institutes, joint venture companies, experts and scholars in various fields. The award is not given for innovation only, but also for ease of commercialization to the marketplace. The award is often a forecast of what is coming down the pipeline. India’s Tata Motors previously won the WSJ’s award before debuting the end product two years later.
ITRI president Dr. Johnsee Lee says, “ITRI commenced R&D on the paper-thin flexible loudspeaker in 2006 through a team led by general director Dr. Yi-Jen Chan in the Electronic & Optoelectronic Research Laboratories. So far, ITRI has applied for 45 global patents for its 17 projects. Applications for this technology are extensive and possess enormous industry potential.” The paper-thin flexible loudspeaker utilizes paper and metal layers as the material and printing for production. It will pioneer a new era in speakers and the electronic sound industry. Aside from revolutionizing the traditional speaker industry, it can be extended to the Memo cards, thin-sheet MP3 applications, and can be integrated into energy-saving buildings, electric vehicles, entertainment and medical applications. FleXpeaker also has the potential to kick-start a whole range of new technology products.
With a goal of becoming a pioneer in hi-tech development and not merely a follower, ITRI has certainly met its goal with innovative R&D and application capability. This year alone, ITRI has already won the R&D 100 awards for its high safety STOBA lithium battery. The innovative material STOBA can effectively enhance the safety of the lithium battery and greatly reduce the explosion rate of these batteries. It is the only technology in the world that has fundamentally resolved safety issues surrounding lithium batteries.
Besides winning the WSJ Technology Innovation Awards, the loudspeaker also won the red dot Award. The red dot Design Competition is one of the largest and most renowned design competitions in the world. With more than 11,000 submissions from over 61 countries, ITRI’s submission was chosen as a trendsetter and for the product’s design quality.
- The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.
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