Google Phone Screens Could Sing

Google has bought a company that’s developing a way to make smartphone screens double-up as speakers. It could mean slimmer phones or longer battery life.

The buyout of Redux actually happened last year but has only just been made public. It involves technology that works in two contrasting ways, the first being to vibrate the screen to produce sound. It’s a similar process to making a noise when you rub the rim of a wine glass, though hopefully without the famed effect you get when an opera singer sustains a particular note. In previous demos, listeners described the sound quality as “decent”.

The idea isn’t simply to be a gimmick, but rather to free up space that’s currently used for built-in speakers (which tend to be fairly tinny anyway.) That could mean more room for batteries or even space for new components.

It’s possible Google is more interested in the flip-side of Redux’s technology. The same process also allows the screen to vibrate silently (to human ears at least) in specific locations, acting as haptic feedback. That could mean phones, and particularly tablets, could offer a more realistic and versatile feel to the fingertips, benefiting general use as well as opening up options for more immersive game inputs.

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