Tablet owners looking for some quality sounds from their multi-touch mobile device may soon be able to get hold of covers containing new flat speaker solutions from HiWave Technologies. The SoundSleeve incorporates a pair of 2W audio exciters mounted on a lightweight honeycomb panel and is designed to be hidden behind the lid of a tablet computer sleeve.

Even though my tablet computer includes a pair of modest stereo speakers, if I want to listen to audio I tend to plug in some earphones rather than listen to the often tinny reproduction offered by the onboard drivers. I could plug in some external speakers but that would just add to the bulk of accessories I already carry (Bluetooth keyboard, solar charger, wireless mouse, extra storage and so on). Now HiWave has announced that both soft and hard tablet covers sporting its new SoundSleeve speaker (HIAM-SS2S) should be available in time for this year's festive season.

Within the 13mm (0.5-inch) thin protective shell, the company has mounted two low-profile electromagnetic audio exciters that output up to 2W each. HiWave is reported to be working on integrating its Audium amplifier chip into the design which can optimize the audio quality using its own onboard processing core and be tweaked to take different configurations into account, but designers' own amplifier and interface boards - together with battery packs - can also be incorporated as required.

The weight of the unit will vary depending on module size but we've been informed that a 7-inch wide speaker would be 195g (6.8 ounces), including drivers and cables.

"With tablet computing led by Apple's iPad now finding a place in so many people's daily lives, there is a rapidly growing market for protective sleeves that also deliver top quality audio for entertainment and conferencing to the tablet user on the move," says HiWave's James Lewis. "HiWave's flat speaker technology is the ideal solution to take tablet audio to the next level."

Hi-Wave is currently sending out a limited number of samples to select manufacturers ahead of more widespread availability in September, in time for consumer products to start appearing before Christmas.

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