HONG KONG: an electric motorbike that sounds like a galloping horse? Whatever NXT?
Interesting discussions with the guys from NXT here at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair: it seems every time I meet with them they have some new and exciting developments of their various technologies, and this trip is no exception.
There's everything from wireless iPod speakers to a motorbike that sounds like a galloping horse!
As ever, the range of drive units using the company's Balanced Mode Radiator technology is growing, both in the choice of sizes and shapes, as evidenced by the fact we've seen it in everything from Naim's big Ovator S-600 floorstanding speakers to ultra-slim TVs such as this JVC 42in model.
In common with some other TV brands, the JVCs use NXT HARP (High Aspect Rectangular Panel) drivers, which are well suited to TVs as they are both shallow, being long and narrow in profile, and slim.
You'll also find NXT drivers in the likes of the Revo range of radios, QAcoustics' QTV2 (which even has a flat-panel subwoofer), TEAC and Hitachi systems and a whole raft of iPod docks and computer speakers.
And the company's also doing a lot of work on both turning phone and computer display panels into speakers, using its SurfaceSound technology, and also providing physical feedback using when you draw on screens with a finger or stylus, or type on virtual on-screen keyboards. This work on haptics is a major part of the company's research at the moment.
However, audio is far from on the back burner: BMR expert Matt Dore showed us a slick wireless iPod speaker system using rechargeable speakers and a tiny transmitter, soon to be no larger than a standard iPod plug.
When it's ready for sale – and that should be soon – the transmitter will be miniaturised down to look just like the usual plug, will be powered and controlled by the player to which it's connected, and will have a 'piggyback' socket so the player can be charged while it's in use.
There'll also be a USB dongle, again in Mac style, allowing computers to be used with the ultra-slim speakers.
And while the company's SurfaceSound technology has been used to turn vehicle headlining into speakers in the likes of the Toyota Tacoma pickup in the States, and the company's speakers are also in the Citroen C4 Picasso, you'd probably never think NXT speakers have a use in motorbikes.
Enter stage left the Brammo Enertia, an electric bike with a 68km range, 50+mph top speed, three-hour recharge time – and a near-silent brushless motor.
Near silent: that's the problem, in that pedestrians and other road users can't hear the bike approaching.
Now for those of us plagued by screaming bikes and two-strokes doing the old 'a-ring-ding-ding-ding-ding' thing that may be no hardship, but with the addition of NXT's sealed, weatherproofed BMR drive units, one of which you can see in the foreground of the picture above, the bike can make – well – bikey noises.
Or in the case of one user, as NXT CEO Peter Thoms told us, the sound of a galloping horse.
Champion the Wonder Bike, anyone?