While Google’s $1.1 billion buyout of HTC’s Pixel team brought plenty of headlines, it seems the search giant made another, smaller acquisition last year that flew under the radar. According to Bloomberg, the company acquired a Cambridge, UK startup called Redux that makes technology designed to turn surfaces into speakers.
The company’s Crunchbase profile states that Redux “creates products and bespoke systems that enable customisable, high-resolution haptic feedback and speakerless surround sound audio.”
Redux’s said in 2017 that its patented bending wave techniques could allow it to turn a smartphone screen into a high-quality speaker. Should Google use this tech to remove the need for speakers in its future smartphones, it would free up space for other components and perhaps larger batteries, while doing away with bezels altogether. Google might also use the acquisition to improve its future handsets' haptic feedback.
"When it comes to mobile phones, we are not only saving valuable real estate and creating a waterproof housing, we are eliminating the need for additional speaker holes and most importantly, improving the audio quality," said CEO Nedko Ivanov in an interview with New Electronics.
Redux shares were transferred to Google on December 13, according to UK regulatory filings, though Crunchbase said the deal took place back in August. No word on how much it paid, but the $5 million Redux raised in March suggests it could be around that figure.
Some of Redux’s tech has already appeared in PCs and vehicle infotainment systems. In an April 2017 statement, it told Engadget that the move to smartphones would take place this year. The company had 178 granted patents, according to its LinkedIn page.