Google acquired a United Kingdom startup that turns mobile screens into speakers

Cambridge-based Redux bought by Google

The startup is developing technology, and it will be able to turn certain surfaces into speakers.

Redux is also developing technologies that add haptic feedback on mobile displays. The actual deal was reportedly made in August 2017. 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". And displays with tactile feedback could offer a unique selling point for the company's devices - similar to Apple's pressure-sensitive "3D touch" iPhone screens. However, both smartphones needed to have some bezels to make that possible.

Google has been aggressive this year with its touchscreen products, predominantly the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. According to Crunchbase, Redux has also previously raised more than $5 million in funding before it was acquired by Google. 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. The feature would eliminate the need for separate speakers but still let users play audio, potentially creating opportunities for Google to develop new smartphone design concepts.

Redux has demoed its technology on smartphone and tablet displays, in the past, and that very well may be Google Inc (GOOG)'s core intended use for this exciting technology. Redux's website is now blank, and its official Twitter account has not posted an update in almost nine months.

Sometime a year ago, Google quietly acquired a United Kingdom startup doing rather interesting work with sound, including a new type of speaker and haptic feedback.

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