Category Archives: Bamboo product reviews

Product reviews

Bamboo Plant Opal

Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker. The very name requires a second look. It certainly had me wondering what plant opal is, what it has to do with bamboo, and why it might be used to make speakers.

bamboo plant opalPlant opal, or phytoliths, are microscopic siliceous bodies which occur in living plants. When plants die and subsequently decompose, the phytolith is released into soils and sediments. Because phytoliths are highly resistant to decomposition, they survive in sediments and soils long after the plants have vanished. This characteristic makes them useful for scientific research in botany, agriculture and archaeology. Now we can add manufacture of loudspeakers to the list.

Panasonic was already making speakers with diaphragms made from resin mixed with bamboo fibres and bamboo charcoal. Their new loudspeakers also incorporate plant opal from bamboo leaves. The claims from Panasonic’s website maintain that the plant opal loudspeaker is able to reproduce clear sound with low distortion thanks to the hardness of the plant opal material that occurs naturally in bamboo.

bamboo plant opal, phytoliths

Phytoliths under the microscope. Each phytolith is only tens of micrometers long.

Plant opal is certainly hard and robust. Phytoliths are made of inorganic silica or calcium oxalate and survive in conditions that would destroy organic residues. Different plants produce distinguishable phytoliths with different shapes and relative content percentages, as do different species within the same family or subfamily. This is particularly so in the grasses family to which bamboo belongs. Within the sub-family of Bambusoideae, we find that there are several types of phytoliths in bamboos including fan-shape, long-saddle, tower-shape, sinuate elongate, smooth elongate, silica stoma, silica hair and hair tip. Who would have thought?

You can see 3,669 more images of phytoliths in the PhytCore phytolith database online. Clearly, someone cares. And aren’t we lucky they do?

Have you heard sound from the Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker? Is it as good as they make out?

Amazon lists lots of books about phytoliths, and eBay au has some too.


  • Hart, D. M. (1988). The plant opal content in the vegetation and sediment of a swamp at Oxford Falls, New South Wales, Australia. Australian journal of botany,36(2), 159-170.
  • Huang, Z. T., Li, Y. F., Jiang, P. K., Chang, S. X., Song, Z. L., Liu, J., & Zhou, G. M. (2014). Long-term intensive management increased carbon occluded in phytolith (PhytOC) in bamboo forest soils. Scientific reports, 4.
  • Li, Q., Xu, D. K., & Lu, H. Y. (2005). Morphology of phytolith in Bambusoideae (Gramineae) and its ecological significance. Quaternary Sciences, 25, 777-784.
  • Panasonic
  • Wikipedia

Bamboo on the Internet for January 2014 – my picks

bamboo portable laptop deskCult of Mac reviews the bamboo AirDesk – A laptop tray/portable laptop desk with a mouse pad, and slot for your iPhone or iPad mini. And its available on Amazon.  Why only Macs?

The AirDesk would match the very stylish Chisel iPhone dock. Reviewed by Into Mobile and available for iPhone 4 and 5 on Amazon. Sigh (why only Macs?).

No such thing as organic bamboo fabric? This reminds me to further investigate bamboo textiles.

gucci bamboo heelsDid you like the Gucci bags with bamboo handles featured in the September version of this post? Now you can get bamboo heels to match. At A$650 a pair, much less expensive than the bag. Fashion Foie Gras described them as ” rather conservative and definitely have a party going on there from the back.”

The ever-increasing demand for PVC plastic kites is sounding a death knell for the craft of handmade kites in Hyderabad, India, according to the The Hindu.

bamboo2,500 bamboo strips dating from 305 BC, unearthed from an illegal tomb excavation in China, were donated to, and restored by, the Tsinghua University in Beijing. 21 of the strips are an elaborate multiplication matrix.

bambooMore innovative architecture from Designboom: bamboo sleeping units for an orphanage near the Thai-Burmese border. For more images and details, click on the image.

Still more from Designboom: Tranquillity in the heart of a metropolis. No, it’s not made of bamboo, rather, bamboo provides shade and shadow-play in an otherwise linear building. yutaka-kawahara-kaikouin-nenbutsudo-temple-designboom-44

More tranquillity (secular). (And more Designboom) What particular architectural elements achieve serenity for this cafe in Vietnam? Water? Bamboo? The curves? bamboo