Issue: Oct 2009


ITRI's FleXpeaker, an Innovative, Paper-Thin Speaker Technology, Receives Wall Street Journal Award



Breakthrough Technology Takes Top Honor in Consumer Electronics Category

by James Hilton

ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), Taiwan's largest and one of the world's leading high-tech research and development institutions, accepted the 2009 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in Consumer Electronics Tuesday evening in San Francisco for its FleXpeaker, a paper-thin flexible speaker technology, besting more than 500 companies including HP, Livescribe and Motorola. This breakthrough will allow consumer electronic products of the future to become even lighter and slimmer.

"To be recognized by an organization as prestigious and well-respected as The Wall Street Journal is a great honor," said Yi-Jen Chan, vice president and general director of the Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories at ITRI. "I am very proud of our team who developed this groundbreaking technology and am pleased they earned such recognition."

With support from the technology project of Taiwan's Department of Industrial Technology of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, R&D of the paper-thin flexible speakers commenced in 2006. The team, led by Dr. Chan, devised a way to create arrays of tiny, bendable speakers that can be combined to produce high-fidelity speaker systems of almost any size using standard printing, making it the world's thinnest, lightest and most flexible speaker. This technology will effectively reduce the price of speakers and is an effective, adaptable solution, for wired and wireless products alike, with extensive and enormous potential across a wide range of industries.

Because FleXpeaker is flexible in size, lightweight and consumes little power, this disruptive technology can be used in car audio systems, flat-screen televisions, thin-sheet MP3 innovative applications, advertising (such as on billboards and in shopping
malls) and public announcement systems in locations such as train stations. Additionally, it can be integrated into and extended to energy-saving buildings, electric vehicles, and entertainment and medical applications. Through special integration technology, FleXpeaker can also be incorporated into wearable clothing and consumer packaging, and can be cut with scissors into any shape.

In its 9th year, the 2009 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards received more than 500 entries spanning 12 categories, 180 of which were sent to a team of 16 judges from research institutions, venture-capital firms, and experts and scholars from other reputed companies. Judges were instructed to consider the technology's application, commercialization and market potential in addition to its innovation. The award winners were pre-announced on September 14 and were honored at a ceremony and dinner on October 13 in San Francisco. The event was held in conjunction with the Dow Jones VentureWire Technology Showcase and featured a keynote address by Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive of Salesforce.com Inc.

About ITRI (www.itri.org.tw/eng)

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. Founded in 1973, ITRI has played a vital role in transforming Taiwan's economy from a labor-intensive industry to a high-tech industry. Numerous well-known high-tech companies in Taiwan, such as leaders in the semiconductor industry TSMC and UMC, can all trace their origins to ITRI.

Innovative Research

ITRI is a multidisciplinary research center, with six core laboratories, five focus centers, five linkage centers, several leading labs and various business development units. The six fields ITRI focuses on include Information and Communication; Electronics and Optoelectronics; Material, Chemical and Nanotechnologies; Biomedical Technologies; Advanced Manufacturing and Systems; and Energy and Environment. ITRI has aggressively researched and developed countless next-generation technologies, including WIMAX wireless broadband, solar cells, RFID, light electric vehicles, flexible displays, 3-D ICs and telecare technologies. In addition, ITRI's Flexible Electronics Pilot Lab and Nanotechnology Lab provide international-level research platforms where R&D can be conducted jointly with partners. ITRI has also seen significant growth in intellectual property business and new ventures in recent years and is devoted to creating a model that would make Taiwan manufacturing even more competitive in the international arena.

Fostering Entrepreneurship and CEO Leadership

ITRI employs 5,800 personnel, including 1,112 who hold Ph.D.s, and 3,206 with master's degrees, resulting in an average of five patents produced every day. By disseminating both technology and talent, ITRI has led the technology industry into the 21st century and has cultivated 70 CEOs in the local high-tech industry. In addition to its headquarters in Taiwan, ITRI has branch offices in the California Silicon Valley, Tokyo, Berlin and Moscow.

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