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Google buys company behind screen-to-speaker tech

by Justin Herrick | January 11, 2018January 11, 2018 10:00 am EST

Almost no one knew about it, but as 2017 was coming to an end Google purchased a company developing technology that turns surfaces into speakers. Redux, which had been operating in the United Kingdom, was bought by the Mountain View-based company as recently as December for an undisclosed price. What Google paid isn’t interesting anyway. All anyone cares about is what the company plans on doing with this little-known technology.

The website belonging to Redux is no longer active; however, CNBC found a cached version revealing it was working on “panel audio.” It’s a technology that literally converts surfaces into speakers so that users don’t need a dedicated speaker-on hand.

Redux was also playing around with haptic feedback. Much like Apple already does on the iPhone with 3D Touch, this startup was trying to measure pressure levels when a user interacted with their phone’s display. And perhaps that’s what Google found most appealing about Redux. As the company goes all-in on hardware starting this year, pushing out innovative features for the Pixel line is vital.

Nearly 200 patents have been granted to the now-acquired company since 2013, and in this day and age those are extremely valuable.

Google might’ve bought Redux even earlier than believed. The filing confirming the sale was discovered at the end of last year, but multiple signs point to the acquisition happening over the summer. Former Redux CEO Nedko Ivanov’s LinkedIn page suggests he left in August 2017, though it’s unknown if he’s currently working for Google. Neither Google nor Redux have confirmed any deal.

Expect to see Redux’s technology get implemented as soon as the end of 2018 on the next Pixel. If Google can’t have it ready for this year, it’s basically a lock for next year. The clock is ticking for Google’s hardware to compete head-to-head against Apple’s.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...