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Transparent sound takes on a whole new meaning with this directional glass speaker

Considering how long the concept has been around, speakers haven’t changed all that much. And it turns out that there is plenty of room left to innovate, as we’re beginning to see more companies exploring the idea of directional sound. That said, until now, we’ve never seen the idea demonstrated in such a striking manner.

On Wednesday, Turtle Beach unveiled the HyperSound Glass speaker, a fully transparent pane of glass that emits sound. As with other directional speakers we’ve seen, the HyperSound team’s technology is based on ultrasound concepts that have been around for quite some time, but glass certainly is a new wrinkle.

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“Being able to create highly directional audio using glass opens up many potential opportunities, including integrating into desktop monitors, commercial displays, desktop speakers, and automotive dashboard glass to provide warnings directed specifically at the driver … pretty much anywhere there’s glass there’s a potential for audio,” Turtle Beach CEO Juergen Stark said in a statement.

The usual comparison when it comes to directional audio is that it’s like a flashlight: unlike normal speakers, sound is focused in a tight beam. The similarities don’t end there, either. Just like a beam of light, the sound used in these types of speakers can be obstructed — walls or even people in between you and the speakers will block the sound.

As for how glass can be turned into a speaker, Turtle Beach compares the technique to touchscreen glass. Multiple layers of transparent materials and electronics allow the glass to generate the ultrasound frequencies that lie at the heart of directional audio. While it remains to be seen how well this will work in the consumer space, the potential uses in the health care industry and other fields seem promising.

If you’re wondering where you can get your hands on a shiny new pair of glass HyperSound speakers, well, you can’t — at least not yet. Turtle Beach still has a way to go before this becomes a commercial product, but it will be showing its technology off at E3 to let people see how it works first hand.

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“Again, it’s still early in development and the applications are simply ideas on the drawing board, but at the same time having HyperSound directional audio working on glass is very exciting and we can’t wait to show it publicly for the first time at E3,” Stark said.

HyperSound already has this tech available to consumers, albeit not in a transparent form. The company’s HyperSound Clear 500P looks similar and works the same way, but uses a metal plate instead of a pane of glass.