The Institute - December 2019 - 6


technology conjures sound
from small spaces


ust about every consumer electronics
device has gotten smaller
and has changed shape.
Think computers, telephones, and cameras. One product
that has lagged behind is the speaker,
whose conical form has been around
for more than a century. But that's
about to change.
Resonado, a startup in South Bend,
Ind., has developed flat core speaker
(FCS) technology that allows speakers
to be thinner and lighter than traditional ones. They can be shaped to
fit into corners, nooks, and crannies
such as vehicle headrests and steering wheels.
The technology originated in South
Korea. Leeg Hyun Cho, an engineer
who goes by LH, and son Brian
Youngil Cho came up with the idea
while tinkering on other projects. LH,
once an executive at LG, is now a serial
entrepreneur in South Korea with several successful "exits."
Resonado was founded two years ago
in Indiana at the University of Notre
Dame to commercialize the technology, with Brian as CEO and LH as CTO.
Brian recruited three fellow Notre Dame
undergraduates as cofounders, including
IEEE Member Christian Femrite [pictured above], who is the company's vice
president of engineering.
"Flat core speaker technology is a complete redesign of the internal structure
of conventional speakers," Femrite says.
"The biggest advantage is the technology
offers design flexibility. We're talking
about making speakers that conform


DEC 2019



US $1 million in early funding from
venture capital groups including
the Notre Dame Idea Center Pit
Road Fund, Catapult Ventures, 500
Startups, and Queen City Angels.
The company is about to start massproducing its first commercial speaker
model. The goal is to finalize the product by the end of the year.

to whatever shape you want, while still
maintaining high-quality sound."
In August, Resonado was designated
the official sound partner of Notre Dame
athletics. If you've watched the school's
Fighting Irish football team this season,
you might have noticed the startup's
logo adorning coaches' headsets. The
headset logos are purely an advertising
vehicle now, but in the future the technology could be implemented within
those headphones or even the stadium's
entire sound system.
In July the startup partnered with Menlo
Scientific, an audio consultancy firm in
Richmond, Calif. The company provides
prototyping resources, connections to
manufacturing facilities, and engineering insights into materials technology.
Resonado also received more than

FCS technology means a fundamentally different internal structure from
conventional speakers' workings,
Femrite says. Instead of a cylindrical, magnet-and-voice-coil assembly,
Resonado's speakers use a planar
voice coil with bar magnets. The voice
coil can be coupled to the diaphragm
in different configurations including
those that offer a new style of modular driver design. Different voice
coil windings and material implementations are made possible by FCS structure,
and the damper of a flat core speaker is
now located under the speaker to offer
better overall control.
"Understanding the fundamentals of
a speaker and Maxwell's equations was
the key to rethinking how to use and
rearrange those principles to make a
better speaker," Femrite says.
The speakers can take on virtually any
shape-which allows them to be used in
creative ways.
There is demand for a personalized
audio experience in automobiles, for
example, but space and weight restrictions are tight. "With purposefully placed
speakers, each passenger could have a
unique experience," Femrite says. "This

The Institute - December 2019

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