Dressed To Listen

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Some types of fabric can muffle sounds and music but scientists recently developed a fabric that can listen to noises, including human heartbeats, according to Science News.

In a new study, a research team created a new fiber that acts as a microphone and can capture a variety of sounds – such as speech and rustling leaves – and turn them into electrical signals.

Lead author Wei Yan and his team explained that the novel fiber was inspired by the human eardrum: Sound waves create vibrations in the eardrum, which the cochlea converts to electrical impulses.

Their new fabric is a combination of cotton fibers and a stiff material called Twaron that converts incoming sounds to vibrations. It also includes a single fiber that contains piezoelectric materials, which produce voltage from mechanical stress.

When bent or pressed, the piezoelectric-containing fiber generates electrical impulses that are delivered via a small circuit board to a device that reads and records voltage.

In a series of experiments, the team wrote said the cloth was sensitive to different degrees of noise levels, from a silent library to noisy traffic. In one instance, they incorporated the fabric into a shirt and were able to listen to the wearer’s heartbeat.

The authors suggested that the special textile could be used as a diagnostic tool to monitor people’s health, including their heart rates.

And the best part is that it is machine-washable.

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