Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Google acquired Redux, a United Kingdom startup focused on audio and haptics

Google acquired Redux, a United Kingdom startup focused on audio and haptics

Sometime past year, Google quietly acquired a United Kingdom startup doing rather interesting work with sound, including a new type of speaker and haptic feedback.

When Apple Inc. (AAPL) ditched the standard 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone, and it said the reason was "courage"? that wasn't the reason, the actual reason was simple: in the ongoing fight to make thinner smartphones that pack in more and more tech, space is at a premium.

With the acquisition, Google now has an extra 178 patents under its belt, which it can use to enhance its future smartphone and other devices - perhaps even future Google Home hardware.

Redux was founded in 2013 out of Cambridge, and built technology that uses vibrations to turn surfaces of phones or tablets into speakers or provide haptic feedback. The Verge was actually able to try out the startup's technology past year on a tablet. The sound quality is said to be "decent".

Redux's main investor was Arie Capital, a United Kingdom -based venture and private equity company, which invested $5 million.

The company now has 178 granted patents and more than 50 patents pending.

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So far, Redux has only been able to integrate its technologies inside PCs and some infotainment systems for vehicles, but none have made its way to commercially available mobile devices yet.

According to filings, Google took control of the startup back in August and then subsequently shut down the company's website.

If Google decides to use Redux's display-speaker technology on its future Pixel phones, the company could achieve a better bezel-less design without removing front-facing speakers.

Google has remained quiet on the acquisition of Redux.

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.com Inc.'s Echo device.

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