Google could turn the next Pixel's touchscreen into a speaker

Delia Watkins
January 12, 2018

Earlier today, Bloomberg reported that Google has quietly acquired a United Kingdom startup which aims to turn surfaces, such as phone displays, into speakers.

Redux shares were transferred to Google on December 13, according to United Kingdom regulatory filings, though Crunchbase said the deal took place back in August.

Google did not provide Bloomberg with any details, including purchasing price or other acquisition information. If replaced, that could leave more space for a larger battery or other components: even, perhaps, the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack, were Google so inclined. It's not clear when the purchase was made, or for how much the company was bought, but the acquisition happened in August previous year according to Crunchbase.

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Some lucky tech developer in Cambridge has achieved the cashing-out dream, with no less a cash bag than Google agreeing to buy the mad-sounding speaker technology created by Redux. This kind of imitates the sensation that makes it feel like users are actually pushing buttons or adjusting sliders on a device's display. Based on the publicly available funding data, Redux Labs raised a total of $5 million to date.

So far, Redux has only been able to integrate its technologies inside PCs and some infotainment systems for vehicles, but none have made its way to commercially available mobile devices yet. The startup is developing technology, and it will be able to turn certain surfaces into speakers. For Panel Audio, they are using special actuators that "deliver naturalistic wide-frequency-range audio from a panel or display (without micro-speakers and apertures) - providing a versatile and robust overall solution". Its main Google division started selling its own smartphones in 2016, so new engineering talent from Redux may help the company develop handsets with better sound.

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