Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has secretly acquired a UK start-up that specialises in technology to turn smartphone screens into speakers.
The system by Cambridge-based Redux could eliminate the need for small speakers to be used in mobile phones.
This would free up space for other components, such as larger batteries or a better cameras, in Google products such as Pixel phones.
It remains unclear when Alphabet bought the sound specialist, but the tech-giant confirmed that it obtained the shares on December 13.
Google – based in California – has secretly acquired a tech start-up company based in Cambridge, UK that could turn any surface into a speaker. Google refused to comment on the price of the acquisition or any further details
Alphabet Inc is the parent company of Google and owns numerous companies, and continues to acquire even more.
On August 17, 2005 it acquired Android Inc for $50 million (£37 million).
In 2006 it acquired video-sharing platform behemoth Youtube for a deal exceeding $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion).
In 2009 it spent $750 million (£550 million) on mobile advertising company AdMob.
It spent nearly $1 billion (£740 million) in 2013 on GPS tracking and navigation company Waze.
Nest Labs was bought by Alphabet Inc in 2014 for $3.2 billion (£2.4 billion).
Artificial intelligence company Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory was bought out in 2014 for a sum exceeding tens of millions of dollars.
The acquisition of Redux was first reported by Bloomberg.
A spokesperson for Google refused to comment on the price of the acquisition or any further details. However, it is believed the deal went through in August.
According to its LinkedIn page the company ‘developed breakthrough technology which transforms the user experience by bringing surfaces to life with Sound and Touch.’
The Verge tested startup’s technology last year on a tablet.
It reported that Redux is able to turn screens into a speakers by vibrating the screen itself using small actuators.
At the time, it said the sound quality was ‘decent.’
The company currently has 178 granted patents and more than 50 patents pending.
It also has technologies that add haptic feedback on mobile displays, which provides vibrations to imitate what it feels like to push physical buttons.
Last year, it received £3.7 million ($5 million) from an array of investors, including Arie Capital.
So far, Redux has only been able to use its technologies inside PCs and some car infotainment systems – but that could be about to change.
Alphabet has a range of potential uses for the technology.
The takeover of the sound specialists could see an influx of new engineering talent for Google that could help the company incorporate better sound systems into its handsets in the future.
This appears to be the latest in a string of takeovers from the tech conglomerate.
One of the more recent purchases by Alphabet was obtaining HTC in 2017, for over $1 billion ($750 million).
At the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas this week, Google is heavily promoting its voice-controlled speakers that compete with Amazon’s Echo device.