Google looks to turn phone displays to speakers with UK sound tech startup buy

Google is set to expand its sound-based products, as it secretly acquired Redux, a UK sound technology startup, that can turn phone displays into speakers.

By: Bloomberg | Published: January 11, 2018 2:04 pm
Google sound devices, phone display speakers, Redux sound technology, smartphone speakers, Google Redux deal, CES 2018, voice-controlled speakers, haptic feedback alphabet’s Google has always looked into innovative options for its smartphone range. This move is expected to enhance performance, as speaker space can be used up by batteries. (Image Source: Bloomberg)

Alphabet Inc’s Google has quietly acquired a UK startup focused on technology that turns surfaces such as phone displays into speakers. Redux developed technology that eliminates the need for small speakers in mobile phones, freeing up space for batteries or other components, the Cambridge, UK-based startup said on its now defunct website.

It is unclear when Alphabet – via an Ireland-based subsidiary of Google – acquired Redux, but the transfer of shares of Redux holding company NVF Tech Ltd to the US tech giant was confirmed on December 13, according to UK regulatory filings. Crunchbase said the deal happened in August.

A spokesperson for Google declined to comment on a purchase price, or other the details of the acquisition. Backed by investors including Arie Capital, Redux raised $5 million in March 2017, and concentrated on markets including computing, mobile, automotive and industrial controls. The UK company had 178 granted patents, according to its LinkedIn page.

Alphabet has a range of potential uses for the technology. Its main Google division started selling its own smartphones in 2016, so new engineering talent from Redux may help the company develop handsets with better sound. Redux’s technology could also be used create haptic feedback – which gives the sense of touch on a surface such as a screen. At the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas this week, Google is heavily promoting its voice-controlled speakers that compete with Amazon.com Inc’s Echo device.

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