New surface audio tech from Redux could signal the end of smartphone and laptop speakers, paving the way for smaller devices with better sound quality.
Unless you remember the glory days of the HTC One M8, speaker quality has long been an afterthought on most smartphones. It’s difficult to implement the feature without adding extra heft, meaning most manufacturers decide to stick a smaller mono speaker on the bottom instead. This doesn’t work very well and often produces tinny, poor quality audio.
Redux, a company based outside Cambridge in the UK, thinks they might have the answer. The technology they have created turns the surface of your handset into a high-quality loudspeaker, illuminating the need for grilles and consuming much less power. It enables manufacturers to completely remove all physical buttons and microspeakers, which in turn will open up new design possibilities — from the exterior design to UX/UI enhancements. This could pave the way for even smaller devices in the future, since the speaker can be integrated directly into the panel. It could also open up the possibility for fully waterproof devices, as the absence of speaker grilles would allow manufacturers to create a full watertight design. The technology also has the added benefit of increased haptic feedback which occurs directly on the panel itself, making button presses feel much realistic versus the current method. Eliminating the haptic control and microspeaker would free up significant space inside the device, potentially leading to larger batteries.
The technology is available for manufacturers from today and comprises over 150 granted patents, covering areas such as audio, haptics and touch. Redux expects the technology to be designed into smartphones in 2018, meaning we could see it in next years flagships.