In brief: We've already seen TVs that use vibrating panels instead of traditional speaker setups to produce sound. Now, LG Display has transferred the technology to a new area: vehicles. The company has announced the Thin Actuator Sound Solution, which it claims will usher in a new era of vehicle infotainment.
LG Display writes that the solution uses its film-type exciter technology, creating sounds by vibrating off display panels and various materials inside the car body to enable a rich, 3D immersive sound experience.
The vibrating panel, developed alongside an unnamed global audio company, is only about the size of a passport (150mm x 90mm), and its thickness of 2.5mm is around the same as two coins stuck together. At 40g, it's around 30% of the weight and 10% of the thickness of a conventional car speaker, which tends to be large and heavy due to components such as the voice coil, cone, and magnet.
That small size means the device can be installed in locations inside the car, such as the dashboard, headliner, pillar, and headrests. LG Display is also promoting its solution's eco-friendly credentials—it excluded the use of rare earth elements such as neodymium (Nd) typically used in conventional speakers.
It's often the case that technologies such as these are closer to concepts with no specific release date, but LG Display says it plans to commercialize production of the Thin Actuator Sound Solution for cars in the first half of next year, so we could see it appear in commercial vehicles sooner than you might expect.
The company will be giving a demonstration of its tech at CES 2023 in Las Vegas in January. The Thin Actuator Sound Solution has already received the event's Innovation Award ('In-Vehicle Entertainment & Safety' category) from the Consumer Technology Association in recognition of its space efficiency, design innovation, sound experience innovation, and eco-friendliness.
In August, LG unveiled a 97-inch OLED panel that creates "cinematic" 5.1 sound using a thin film exciter on the rear to vibrate the display. The same technology is also a part of the Sony Bravia AG9 OLED TV, which is loved by several YouTube tech channels, including Linus Sebastian.