BLOOM: The smart textile that responds to sound

Smart textiles are a big interest of ours so we are particularly intrigued by BLOOM, a knitted textile that is sensitive to sound, opening and closing in response to surrounding noise in order to provide the required sound attenuation. To prevent direct reflection of noise, and therefore dampen sound, BLOOM’s surface opens up to absorb sound waves. However, when reverberant sound is desirable, the surface closes up, allowing for increased sound reflection around the room. This intelligent textile comes from the Yeadon Space Agency and is a collaboration with Jesse Asjes (Jsssjs Product Design) and Laura Wickesberg (WickesWerks LLC).

According to the designers, the geometry of this knitted origami surface is based on pedesis, wherein slightly dissimilar triangular shapes repeat in an aperiod manner, thus absorbing a broad range of sound frequencies. Furthermore, the fibres of the knited textile themselves have a hollow, fluffy structure, which aids in absorbing sound by interrupting sound reflection. As a result, sound waves are left to propogate within the material itself, rather than bouncing back into the space where they came from. An increase in the volume of noise in a room causes the surface to unfold, exposing more and more fibrous surface area to absorb the unwanted sound.

Each flower cluster that makes up the surface of BLOOM is designed and tailored from fiber to shape. By being able to custom design the fiber yarns,the acoustic qualities of BLOOM can be controlled. Every single stitch is digitally programmed, which creates the shape and folds instantly for direct application.

Each basic module contains a standardized actuator component with a six arms that are digitally controlled by a microprocessor, combined with weighted battens that are integrated into the textile. The entire system is designed to be infinitely variable. Thus, BLOOM has the capability to be adjusted in scale, material and color, due to the use of digital knitting technology and the repetition of modular, manufactured components.

Now past its discover stage, A proof-of-concept prototype in New York City has so far been installed. You can watch it in action here.

Image Credits: Jsssjs Product Design, WickesWerks LLC, Yeadon Space Agency