LG's new 'invisible' speakers could revolutionize car audio

LG's new 'invisible' speakers could revolutionize car audio

LG Display has introduced a revolutionary new car 'invisible' speaker technology, featuring a flat panel display system that can be easily attached to car headrests and dashboards.

Developed as a drop-in replacement by the South Korean tech giant for traditional in-vehicle speakers, the Thin Actuator Sound Solution system (opens in a new tab) does away with the usual protruding voice coils, cones and magnets found in most loudspeakers and instead uses a film-like driver membrane.

These can vibrate off panels and various materials inside the car, and LG claims it can produce a "rich 3D surround sound experience."

The panels measure just 5,9 x 3,5 inches and just a tenth of an inch thick, at a featherweight 1,4 ounces, "without compromising sound quality," according to LG.

This slim design means the speakers could be placed almost anywhere inside a vehicle, and the tech giant suggests they could be hidden within trim and pillars, as well as headrests and dashboards.

The flat speaker system appears to be based on CSO (opens in a new tab) (Cinematic Sound OLED), which LG Display showed on an OLED TV where the display panel vibrates to generate audio without the need for dedicated speakers. A similar innovative vibrating panel system is also used in Sony's high-end TVs, including the Sony A95K.

However, LG said that the Thin Actuator Sound Solution was developed with an unnamed "global audio company".

LG Display says it expects the speakers to start appearing in new car interiors in the first half of next year, with the general public set to hear for the first time when the technology is showcased in January at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. .

The new Sony A95K QD-OLED TV

LG Display's new technology appears to feature similar technology to that used in Sony's A95K TV. (Photo credit: Sony)

Analysis: Nothing flat in this car audio breakthrough

On the heels of NTT's recent announcement of its leak-free open-back headphones, this new development from LG Display signals that we're heading into a new era of how we'll be able to consume audio.

If the speakers sound as good as LG claims, we expect automakers to quickly embrace the technology as the benefits seem clear.

Manufacturers would have more room to play in the cabin and dash, while also freeing up space for slimmer door sills in the passenger area, since they would no longer have to incorporate a cone speaker. Its feather-light structure would also allow for a significant gain in weight and therefore efficiency for the vehicle.

The most exciting prospect for us is that the Thin Actuator sound solution could also enable a larger number of speakers that could be positioned freely around the interior of the vehicle. Although LG didn't mention it at launch, we're very curious if the technology works when placed on the roof; if so, it could really open up multi-speaker support, interesting speakers for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos.

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