Google makes little noise buying United Kingdom sound tech startup Redux

Alphabet Inc.’s Google division started selling its own smartphones in 2016 so new engineering talent from Redux may help the company develop handsets with better sound
Cambridge-based Redux bought by Google
Author

12 January, 2018

Google reportedly went under the radar and acquired a United Kingdom startup that turns screens, such as phone displays, into speakers.

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.

A spokesperson for Google declined to comment on a purchase price, or other the details of the acquisition.

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The Redux system uses actuators to create noises by vibrating screens in a jazzed up haptic feedback kind of way, with the company describing its technology as being able to deliver a "naturalistic wide-frequency-range audio from a panel or display" - something that, if proven, could remove the need for putting standalone speakers in the next or next-next generation of smartphones. This also opens up the possibility of placing even more components in future devices, like larger battery. The transfer of shares was confirmed on December 13 based on United Kingdom regulatory filings. However, it is believed the deal went through in August. Backed by investors including Arie Capital, Redux raised $5 million in March 2017, and concentrated on markets including computing, mobile, automotive and industrial controls. Redux has demoed the tech with a custom-built PC monitor.

According to Redux's LinkedIn page, Google Inc (GOOG) could also improve its smartphones' haptic feedback, though the company could also license out Redux's technology and gain some revenue, the company has 178 granted patents and over 50 pending patent applications. Needless to say, the tech that helps integrate smartphone speakers within the display will be invaluable for Google or any other smartphone manufacturers. Rather than including conventional speakers, Sony's A1E projects sound using imperceptible vibrations that ripple through the display.

Redux developed a number of technologies involving sound and touch in mobile devices, but never placed them in any major consumer products. If Google doesn't put Redux's technology in a smartphone, it's certainly possible that the company could put it on one of its very own Smart Displays.


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