Are Distributed Mode Loudspeakers (DMLs) Google’s Next Big Venture?

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.


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.


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.


Being able to utilize the screen of a smartphone as the speakers of the device as well presents a plethora of potential improvements. 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.Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator

June 6, 2021