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Kyocera has entered the market for flat-panel television speakers with what it claims is the world’s thinnest and lightest product.

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. has already decided to use the speakers for its 55-inch 4mm-thick OLED TVs.

Made using piezoelectric elements instead of magnetic coils, Kyocera’s new speakers measure 3.5 x 6.5cm and are only 1mm thick. They are more than 20 times thinner than the average speakers, slashing their space requirements by 100-fold. Weighing in at 7 grams, they are also 20 times lighter.

Conventional coil-based speakers for large TVs are around 20-30mm thick, limiting how thin the set can be designed.

The new speakers allow for thinner TVs and for speaker placement on the front of the panel, providing clearer sound even at a distance.

Kyocera intends to market its new speakers for cutting-edge flat panel sets, including the OLED TVs that will hit the market in force in 2014 and 2015, and the next-generation 4K TVs offering better than full-HD picture quality. The company hopes to develop this into a business with annual sales of 10 billion yen after five years.

Piezoelectric speakers are already used in such products as smoke alarms and earphones, but their sound range is narrow and their output is low, so they have not found use in TVs and other audiovisual equipment.

Kyocera’s new speaker is made from a stack of six to eight piezoelectric thin films to boost output, and these are encased in a special flexible resin film instead of hard metal to help amplify sound.

Samples are priced at 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen apiece, but in mass production, the company expects the product to be competitively priced with conventional coil-based speakers.

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