Google has purchased a small UK startup named Redux, which was developing speakers inset behind the display, meaning that these devices could have smaller bezels and therefore more space inside for the battery, Bloomberg is reporting.
While the news is being reported now, the actual acquisition took place last year, with Crunchbase's records pointing to August. Google is refusing to comment on the acquisition details, including the purchase price, so further information is hard to come by.
However, it is known that the company was established in 2013, is based in Cambridge, and raised $5 million in funding from Arie Capital in early 2017. However, it appears that the CEO -- a Nedko Ivanov -- left the company when it was acquired by Google.
It's also known the company was a fair amount into development of the technology, which causes the screen to microscopically vibrate to produce sound. The Verge had a hands-on before Redux was purchased by Google, saying,
"...We [The Verge] tried a tablet which vibrated its screen to function as a speaker, as well as a number of displays that used haptic feedback to mimic the feel of buttons, sliders, and dials.
The results in both cases were impressive. The sound quality from the vibrating screen was decent, and the haptic feedback made it feel like you were touching, if not physical buttons, then at least something. They clicked and buzzed in a way no other phone screens currently do."
Redux tech turns the screen into a speaker, and a haptic surface. Trying it out here. The sound is actually coming from the screen. pic.twitter.com/VPAi6TzKk9
This video, from Mashable, demonstrates the Redux tech -- the sound is actually coming from the screen itself.
The allure of this technology to Google is obvious. If Google can make the top and bottom bezels smaller by removing the speaker grills on its Pixel line, the devices themselves can either be smaller or the screens bigger. It could also be used in a smart home speaker, giving it a display with no speaker surround, unlike Amazon's Echo Show.