Redux's smartphone tech delivers haptics that feel like physical buttons

redux phone website image 0410 1024x683 resized  1
Water-resistant smartphones aren’t all that uncommon these day — Samsung’s Galaxy S8 can last up to thirty minutes underwater. Truly waterproof devices, though — i.e., phones that can survive hours-long dunks in the pool — are mostly fantasy. But Redux, a London-based startup, may have the solution: Eliminating the speakers, earpieces, and physical buttons susceptible to water damage with ultrasonic speakers embedded beneath a phone’s display.

Redux’s technology relies on sound. By employing an array of “micro-speaker” actuators embedded beneath a smartphone touchscreen, it produces “bending waves” — sounds and vibration — that effectively convert the screen into a high-quality loudspeaker. The result is loud, clear audio without the need for exposed speakers. Even better, the sound isn’t directional– even if you flip a Redux-equipped smartphone upside down or turn it sideways, the volume won’t change.

Redux claims the quality is far superior to the “tinny, low-quality” speakers that smartphones usually pack. And while that may sound like a bold claim, at least one major manufacturer — Sony — is already using a similar technique to conceal speakers behind the display of its new A1 Bravia OLED series televisions.

redux phone 2017 04 20 s20 surfacesound technology smartphone microspeakers

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, Redux’s technology can simulate physical buttons, delivering sensations that feel like physical button presses. In applications that support it, you’ll feel a mechanical switch, a moving slider under your fingertips, or even two different tactile sensations during a multi-touch gesture with two fingers.

Redux thinks its buttonless, speakerless technology is the key to waterproof smartphone designs. Without the need for exposed buttons and ports, phones could be truly sealed.

But this advance could lead to better battery life and thinner devices, too. “Our technology enables smartphone manufacturers to reclaim valuable space within phones, which could be filled by a bigger battery,” Redux CEO Nedko Ivanov said in a statement. “Moreover, our surface audio technology is more power efficient than traditional micro-speakers, which means people can play music and watch videos on their phones for longer between charges.”

Redux’s solution is compatible with both LCD and OLED screens, and it’s already built into several in-car infotainment systems and PC products. The startup said it’s working with several smartphone makers about integrating the tech, but isn’t ready to name names just yet.

“The next challenge for us was to make it available for smartphones, where there’s a huge opportunity to enhance the user experience with better sound and touch,” Ivanov said.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

Polk Audio’s Command Bar joins Alexa’s multiroom music party

Polk's Command Bar is a home theater soundbar with Alexa built in. But with a new update, it can also be grouped with Amazon's Echo products and other third-party speakers for a multi-room experience.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
Mobile

Apple resurrects the iPhone SE with brand-new units starting at $249

Apple quietly started selling the iPhone SE again, at even lower prices than when it was discontinued four months ago. Brand new units of the 32GB version are on sale for $249, while the 128GB version is going for $299.