Interesting Patents:
Google’s Distributed Mode Loudspeaker – The Next Generation of Smartphone Speakers
Distributed mode loudspeaker actuator including patterned electrodes
U.S. Patent No. 11,032,643
Assignee: Google

Google’s latest patent reveals that the future of smartphone speakers could be Distributed Mode Loudspeaker (DML).

A Brief History on Speaker Technology

Conventional electric loudspeaker technology was introduced in the original telephones of the 19th century. The technology utilized a small diaphragm to produce a sound that was then amplified by a horn. In time, the technology was improved upon through various principles, leading to the technology we utilize in today’s phones and electronics.

While modern loudspeaker technology has advanced over the years, a new low-profile, cost-effective application is starting to gain traction.

ABOUT THE PATENT

Smartphone speakers have long resembled traditional coil driven drivers, however recent innovations in distributed mode loudspeakers may indicate a new chapter in smartphone design. Distributed mode loudspeakers (DMLs) utilize an actuator to vibrate a larger panel, producing sound waves. With recent advances in the miniaturization of electronic devices and materials engineering Google has been able to integrate a DML system into the display of a smartphone, turning your phone screen into a working speaker.

WHAT THE INVENTION WOULD DO

The patent issued to Google titled: “Distributed mode loudspeaker actuator including patterned electrodes” discloses an apparatus of an actuator mounted to a display panel that when provided a current will cause the display panel to generate sound waves. As the actuator receives an audio signal the spectrum of the received signal is analyzed to determine how to utilize the display to produce the incoming audio signal. Embedded within the display is a plurality of electrodes, enabling the actuator to control where on the screen the actual sound production takes place.

WHY THIS PATENT IS INTERESTING

Being able to utilize the screen of a smartphone as the speakers of the device as well presents a plethora of potential improvements.

The DMLs will have the ability to be larger, providing both a louder and better speaker.

These types of speakers also result in huge amounts of space-saving by removing the coil-driven speakers, allowing smartphones to grow ever slimmer.

This patent also plays a critical role in enhancing the durability of smartphones. Speaker ports are prone to clogging, leaking, and are a weak point in the smartphone’s construction. The DML apparatus disclosed in this patent would remove the need for these vulnerable ports and provide the user with a more resilient smartphone.

Smartphone development has seen some interesting changes over the years, from removing buttons and bezels from the display to the elimination of the headphone jack in favor of a USB-c style port.

Will the next big smartphone development come to speakers? If Google has anything to do with it, this technology is sure to revolutionize the smartphone.

Distributed mode loudspeaker actuator including patterned electrodes

Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator

June 6, 2021

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