FeONIC

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FeONIC Technology Ltd
Industry Consumer electronics
Founded 1999
Headquarters Hull, England
Key people Brian Smith (CEO)
Products Hi-Fi Public Address Home cinema Loudspeakers
Website www.feonic.com

FeONIC is a commercial company specialising in the design and development of magnetostrictive audio products as a spin off from Hull University.

Technology[edit]

The products use a smart material that changes shape in a magnetic field. This material was developed for sonar devices by the US Navy but is now commercially available. The products developed by FeONIC use the unique force created by the change in shape of this smart material to vibrate structures such as floors, windows, walls and even the acoustically conductive structures of ships to produce highly intelligible wide bandwidth sound.

The company's first consumer product, the patented SoundBug, led to the successful roll out of the Whispering Window®[1][2] retail promotion solution in 2003. The FeONIC Presenter (a professional “large” soundbug) is also available.

The company has developed a revolutionary new range of “F Drives” to create flat panel speakers with various applications in the transport, pro audio, domestic, consumer and commercial markets.

Applications[edit]

The applications for these products are varied and include:

  • Transport Passenger Information System speakers for transit hubs and the marine environment. The sound quality of traditional loudspeaker systems at railway stations and on ships is often poor making announcements difficult to understand. The technology developed by FeONIC delivers sound in a way that results in clearer announcements.[3]
  • Professional Audio Sound Zones. The technology can be installed in shops, malls, bars, clubs and other commercial environments to deliver music, public information announcements or marketing messages. It is particularly useful for controlled Sound Zones - unlike traditional speakers the technology allows the control of sound to specific areas from drives under the floor.
  • Home sound systems. The technology can be used to create high quality surround sound with the added benefit of creating invisible speakers (as no conventional speakers are required).
  • Marine Speakers for yacht entertainments systems and waterproof speakers for outdoor use such as a wooden deck.

The company sees its product range as an alternative to the traditional cone speaker or high amplitude audio exciters. FeONIC drives result in non destructive vibrations and can be transmitted through existing or custom made structures and have various advantages over conventional technology, including:

  • Delivering sound more efficiently, by using fewer (high powered) units to produce the same level of sound, cost effectively.
  • The capability to be built into the structure of its surroundings, meaning the system can be invisible and vandal proof (useful where aesthetics and security are important, such as listed buildings or luxury apartments).[4]
  • Greater clarity of sound – FeONIC technology eliminates distortion and reverberation giving good to excellent results in the Speech Transmission Index. Conventional public address systems are compromised by a lack of intelligibility caused primarily by echoes.
  • Fire resistance and impervious to water or moisture damage.
  • Low output amplitude (unlike traditional speakers) – no threat of damage to existing structures.

Fatigue and Stress - Dynamic Comparisons[edit]

Frequency 80 Hz Frequency 300 Hz Frequency 500 Hz
Traditional speaker c3000 μm Traditional speaker c1500 μm Traditional speaker c750 μm
FeONIC Drive < 10 μm FeONIC Drive < 4 μm FeONIC Drive < 1 μm

FeONIC has continually refined and improved the technology, leading to an international, and growing, patent portfolio built over the past 12 years.[5] The technology can also be applied in other areas such as noise reduction and security – development of specific products for these purposes will be undertaken in the future.

FeONIC, based on premises at the University of Hull, has completed manufacturing investment in its current range of products, the F Drives, with the first sales occurring in 2008. FeONIC is now building a distribution network around the world as it moves from being a development company to a sales led company.

Timeline[edit]

The timeline below summarises how FeONIC has developed:

1999 Newlands Scientific plc was incorporated to provide research, development and consultancy services in magnetostrictive devices and exploit the possibilities of Terfenol-D.

2000 Brian Smith was appointed as Managing Director and the product development process began.

2002 Soundbug launched at CeBit (the world’s largest technology trade show) and FeONIC technology trademarked.

2003 Newlands Scientific develops Whispering Window and launches Presenter. Soundbug wins Red Dot design award.

2004 Newlands Scientific becomes FeONIC plc and wins UK electronics industry design award for best use of technology.

2008 New generation F-Drive products are launched and FeONIC Transport formed as a joint venture.

2009 FeONIC South East Asia formed as a distributor; a deal has been agreed with Techtonic for Core Vista panels and product certification received from Network Rail.

References[edit]

External links[edit]