Google quietly acquired a firm that turns a smartphone screen into a speaker

Key Points
  • Google quietly acquired a U.K.-based company NVF Tech which is the parent firm of Redux
  • Redux turns the surface of devices such as smartphones into speakers
  • A UK filing showed Google's Irish subsidiary bought all the stock of NVF Tech
Google CEO Sundar Pichai
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Google quietly acquired a U.K.-based company which turns the surface of devices such as smartphones into speakers with its technology.

A U.K. regulatory filing from December 2017 showed that Google subsidiary Google Ireland Holdings Unlimited Company, bought all the shares of NVF Tech, the parent company of Redux Laboratories.

The filing did not list the price paid for the shares, but showed that all the stock held by investors and employees was transferred to Google in early September.

Redux's website is now dead. But a cached version of the site shows it was working on "panel audio" which removes the need for a speaker in a device. It also creates solutions to create so-called haptic feedback, which allows users to carry out different tasks on current smartphones by applying different pressure to the screen.

Crunchbase, a website which tracks acquisition and funding rounds, said that the acquisition happened in August. On Redux CEO Nedko Ivanov's LinkedIn page, it shows that he left the company in August 2017. It's unclear if he is now working for Google. On Ivanov's profile page, it says that Redux achieved a "successful exit" in August 2017, but it does not state the buyer.

Redux's main investor was Arie Capital, a U.K.-based venture and private equity company, which invested $5 million. Arie has yet to respond to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC. Google has also not responded.

CNBC could not get through to Prosper Capital, another former shareholder, via telephone.

It's unclear why Google may have acquired this company, but the company has been pushing its hardware, particularly its Pixel 2 smartphone. It suggests this technology could be used in future hardware devices from Google.

Redux has 178 granted patents with 50 pending, according to its LinkedIn page. It was founded in 2013.