Google Buys UK-Based Phone Screen Speaker Startup


Alphabet Inc.'s Google has quietly acquired a United Kingdom startup focused on technology that turns surfaces such as phone displays into speakers.

It's not yet known when Alphabet - through an Ireland-based subsidiary of Google - bought the startup, but United Kingdom regulatory filings show that the transfer of shares was completed in mid-December.

The Redux panel speaker uses patented bending-wave technology to produce superb audio directly from a vibrating surface, without the need for a bulky enclosure.

Google did not provide Bloomberg with any details, including purchasing price or other acquisition information. The company raised $5m back in March 2017.

Redux was formed in 2013 from HiWave Technologies, a publicly listed audio and haptics manufacturer that went into administration. I am not sure but the display-speaker integration may also help Google improve the haptic feedback on their phones.

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Redux isn't the only company looking to transform screens into speakers. Redux has demoed the tech with a custom-built PC monitor.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones both feature dual front-facing speakers, which has been welcomed by many critics and users. For instance, the iPhone X and a couple of other bezel-less smartphones like the Mi Mix have strategically relocated hardware like the mic and the earpiece in order to accommodate the larger display.

A filing on 13 December shows Google Ireland, ultimately owned by Alphabet, acquired all shareholdings. While the external space a speaker demands is one thing, it also occupies room inside the phone.

In the past, the company has demoed its technology on smartphone and tablet displays, and that very well may be Google's core intended use for this exciting technology.

At the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas this week, Google is heavily promoting its voice-controlled speakers that compete with Amazon's Echo device.