Graphene speakers could improve sound quality and battery life

A Canadian startup is developing speakers with graphene-based diaphragms that it says could dramatically enhance both battery life and sound fidelity.

(Credit: Ora Sound)
(Credit: Ora Sound)

Based out of Montreal, Ora Sound has created a proprietary nanocomposite formulation called GrapheneQ, consisting of over 95 per cent graphene in combination with oxygen and other additives. According to the company, diaphragms made from GrapheneQ are compatible with existing speaker technology, and deliver better frequency response and reduced distortion compared to other materials.

“Our production method will fit existing audio manufacturing processes,” Ora co-founder Ari Pinkas told The Engineer. “Also, our method allows us to manufacture at scale.”

“Cost-wise, Ora’s technology will be a fraction of the price of materials being used today in high-end audio products - beryllium, CVD diamond, etc - while reaching the same sound quality levels. Compared to low-end materials (mylar/paper), Ora’s technology will only be slightly more expensive.”

“It’s also unproblematic when it comes to moulding it into different shapes such as speaker cones and domes.”

Alongside improved sound fidelity, Ora claims speakers made using its lightweight graphene composite could improve battery life by around 50 per cent. With wireless speakers and headphones making up a growing share of the audio market, battery performance is becoming increasingly important, and Ora says it is in talks with some of the biggest OEMs in the audio industry.

“By making some theoretical calculations based on the material properties, we estimate that we can consistently reduce power consumption by 40-50 per cent,” said Pinkas.

“While we have confidence in our calculations, we’re in the process of having a third party evaluate this metric and should get the ‘unbiased’ results in the next 2-3 weeks.”

According to Pinkas, the promise of higher power output from a reduced footprint has also attracted the attention of smartphone companies, opening up potential in a market that shifts well over one billion units a year.

“We’ve also seen strong interest from the biggest cellphone manufacturers, who are interested in our technology for a different reason altogether,” he said. “They want smaller/louder speakers in their smartphones and tablets: something ORA can provide.”

Additional technical information on GrapheneQ and its advantages can be found on ORA's website.