Google acquired Redux, a United Kingdom startup focused on audio and haptics

Google has bought a company that turns any surface into a speaker

Alphabet, Google's parent company, has secretly acquired a United Kingdom start-up that specialises in technology to turn smartphone screens into speakers.

According to regulatory filings, the transaction, as a part of which Google's United Kingdom subsidiary bought all the shares of Redux holding company NVF Tech Ltd., was completed in December a year ago.

The last public communication from Redux was in April 2017, when it unveiled its Panel Audio technology, which uses haptic vibrations and "bending wave" sounds to turn smartphone and tablet screens into high-quality speakers.

A spokesperson for Google declined to comment on a purchase price, or other the details of the acquisition. On Ivanov's profile page, it says that Redux achieved a "successful exit" in August 2017, but it does not state the buyer.

The US tech giant snapped up Cambridge firm Redux which can turn screens into speakers using haptic feedback. Redux had managed to raise a total of $5 Million prior to the acquisition but the company has not revealed how much it paid to acquire the startup.

So far, Redux has only been able to use its technologies inside PCs and some auto infotainment systems - but that could be about to change. 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".

At CES 2018, Google mainly focused on promoting its smart speakers and its new line of Smart Display devices, its direct competitor to the Amazon Echo Show. As phone manufacturers hunt ways to make even greater percentages of the front of their devices display, the trend has forced some creative thinking around how to accommodate the other components that would traditionally be found in the bezels. 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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