Insight Bite: Exit for Cambridge startup Redux bodes well for haptics and audio tech innovation

Redux, an audio and haptics startup from Cambridge, has been quietly acquired by Google, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Redux makes technology that uses vibrations to turn surfaces of phones or tablets into speakers or provide haptic feedback. This makes it a nice target for Google, which has been rolling out several successful touchscreen products over the past year, with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL emerging as audience favourites. Additions such as Redux could signal an intent from Google to push harder on touch, as it competes with Apple on the smartphone agenda.

Google has been surprisingly quiet about the acquisition of Redux, which Crunchbase records as having happened in August. The deal value is not known, but Redux has raised a total of $5m in a single round led by Arie Capital, conducted in March of last year.

The cutting edge sound technology that Redux makes also has a range of other potential applications that may be of interest to Google – such as the fact that sound can be used to transmit data. A recent article in Wired details how sound could be the next frontier for close-range wireless technologies, as radio frequency transfer methods such as Bluetooth, LoRa, and NFC have all proven vulnerable to glitches and lags. Ticketmaster has already started using sound in this manner, having teamed up with a startup called Lisnr to create audio-based digital tickets. This means that QR codes are scrapped in exchange for the customer’s phone playing a short, inaudible sound.

EDF Energy also uses audio technology in nuclear power stations where radio transmissions are prohibited. Google has also tentatively started to use audio technology, which is how they pair phones with the Chromecast video devices.

There would seem to be a great many uses for this kind of audio technology, so the Redux deal suggests favourable exits may lie ahead for also other innovators in this field.

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