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Google buys a firm that turns screens into speakers

12 January 2018

According to a recent article by Bloomberg, late a year ago Google sneakily picked up a United Kingdom -based startup called Redux that was working on some snazzy tech which can turn surfaces-like the screen on a phone or tablet-into speakers, and even provide more focused haptic effects. The transfer of shares was confirmed on December 13 based on United Kingdom regulatory filings.

On Wednesday night, a report revealed on Bloomberg quietly that Google acquisition of "Redux" could have major implications down the road.

When Apple Inc. (AAPL) ditched the standard 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone, and it said the reason was "courage"? that wasn't the reason, the actual reason was simple: in the ongoing fight to make thinner smartphones that pack in more and more tech, space is at a premium. Just recently Wired wrote about how companies might use audio to transfer data, which may be part of Google's plan for Redux.

The company's technology is focused on "Bending waves" to produce "advanced surface audio and haptics" and improve the user experience of various devices. The Verge had some hands-on time with the company's tech past year, trying out a tablet which vibrated its screen to function as a speaker, as well as a number of displays that used haptic feedback to mimic the feel of buttons, sliders, and dials. The sound quality is said to be "decent". On its LinkedIn page, Redux claims to have been granted at least 178 patents, with more than 50 patents still pending. The startup was backed by Arie Capital.

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So far, Redux has only been able to use its technologies inside PCs and some vehicle infotainment systems - but that could be about to change. This technology has interesting ramifications and possible uses in Google's consumer lineup.

Google quietly acquired a United Kingdom tech startup without anyone noticing - until now that is.

One of the more recent purchases by Alphabet was obtaining HTC in 2017, for over $1 billion ($750 million).

Google has made a concerted effort at CES to promote new features in its series of voice-controlled speakers.

Google buys a firm that turns screens into speakers