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Google Buys UK Startup That Turns Screens Into Speakers

At CES, LG introduces new smart home products with artificial intelligence
Google bought a UK startup that uses vibrations to turn phone displays into speakers. The acquisition was brought to light only recently and happened back in August of last year.   ( Patricia De Melo Moreira | AFP/Getty Images )

Google acquired part or all of UK startup Redux in August 2017. The purchase went under the radar and only came to light now after clearing regulatory processes in the UK.

Redux is known for using vibrations to turn phone and tablet screens into speakers.

Getting Rid Of Speakers

This new mode of delivering sound could start the end of the speakers in phones. Redux’s technology is able to turn screens or other surfaces into a speaker. The sound would be emitted from under the screen through actuators. Actuators create “bending waves,” sounds and vibrations that turn the screen into a speaker.

Removing a speaker from smartphones would allow more space for other components, such as a larger battery, or make it more waterproof. This same technology can also be used for better haptic touch feedback on screens. Instead of focusing on just the feel of textures, Redux worked on better touch sensations for users.

The deal happened in August, but it was formally transferred in the UK according to regulatory filings. Even though Redux holds 178 patents, it never puts them in any major consumer products. Redux’s website has already been taken down.

Google is currently trying to stay ahead with its recent hardware releases. So far, Google hasn’t released a statement on the purchase of Redux.

Pixel 2 Sound Problems

Last year, after the release of Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, many users started complaining of sound problems with the phones. User were reporting buzzing or rattling sounds coming from the front-facing speakers of the phone. Issues with the sound quality would be present regardless of the device’s volume.

That’s not the only issue regarding playback with the Pixel 2. Some users experience clicking noises from the handset and malfunctions with the headphone jack. Complaints from customers fill Google’s Forums and Reddit. There also issues with uneven sound coming from the top and bottom speakers of the phone.

Google still doesn’t have a fix for the issue. The most suggested fix for the problem is to perform a factory reset by Google itself. The issue didn’t hit users uniformly, with many reporting the issue at varying sound volumes. Videos were even posted showing off the buzzing.

Just like getting rid of the headphone jack for Apple was the next step in smartphones, getting rid of speakers may be the way that Google differentiates its phones from the market. Google’s Pixel phones haven’t made a big splash and are suffering from issues.

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