LG Develops ‘Invisible' Speaker Sound Technology That Could Revolutionize In-Vehicle Audio

LG Develops ‘Invisible' Speaker Sound Technology That Could Revolutionize In-Vehicle Audio

Author: Eric Walz   

South Korea-based electronics giant LG Display has announced the development of a unique flat speaker that can be placed in the roof, doors or dash panels of vehicles. LG calls it a "Thin Actuator Sound Solution" and it could revolutionize vehicle audio and infotainment systems by offering high fidelity in a compact form factor.

The new speaker will be commercialized in 2023, according to LG. It was jointly developed with a global audio company, which was not named.

LG Display is one of the world's biggest suppliers of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display panels, OLEDs and flexible displays.

Traditional audio speakers use a voice coil, cone and heavy magnet to deliver sound. However, the drawback is that many of these speakers are bulky, which can be a challenge to automakers to seamlessly integrate into the cabins of vehicles where size and weight are concerns.

The Thin Actuator Sound Solution measures 150mm x 90mm with a thickness of just 2.5mm and resembles a passport. It's extremely thin and light and weighs just 40g, which is roughly 30 percent of the weight of a traditional cone speaker. 

The unique design allows for the removal of speaker grills. It's also 90% thinner than a standard speaker, allowing it to be placed in the roof, pillars, headrests or behind dash panels where traditional speakers do not easily fit, without compromising on sound quality.

The Thin Actuator Sound Solution uses LG Display's film-type exciter technology and works by vibrating off display panels and various materials inside the vehicle's interior to enable a rich, 3D immersive sound experience, according to LG.

In addition, LG Display has excluded the use of rare earth elements such as neodymium (Nd), which is typically used in the magnets of conventional speakers.

"We have transformed the conventionally heavy and bulky speaker into a high-quality ‘invisible' sound solution by using our cutting-edge technology to elevate space, design, and eco-friendly factors and provide a next-level sound experience like none before." said Yeo Chun-ho, Vice President and Head of the Business Development Division at LG Display.

Other companies have also developed unconventional speakers over the past several years. In 2018, German automotive supplier Continental developed an audio system that does not require a traditional speaker at all. Instead, the sound waves are generated by compact actuators, which are similar to the core of a conventional speaker. 

The new car audio system, which Continental named "Ac2ated Sound", replaces conventional audio speakers with tiny actuators—which are really like tiny transducers which create sound by vibrating certain surfaces in the vehicle. Continental says its speakerless audio technology can be integrated into any car model from high end sedans to small electric vehicles.

As more electric vehicles hit the market, improving in-vehicle audio systems is becoming more of a priority to automakers, including the use of Dolby Atmos technology that's typically used for blockbuster Hollywood movies soundtracks.

The audio system of the Lucid Air electric sedan was the world's first to feature Dolby Atmos technology, which uses upward firing speakers to create 3D immersive sound that appears to come from above or behind passengers.

The new ET7 sedan from Tesla rival NIO also offers standard Dolby Atmos audio technology.

LG's new Thin Actuator Sound Solution has received the CES 2023 Innovation Award (‘In-Vehicle Entertainment & Safety' category) from the Consumer Technology Association in recognition of design innovation eco friendliness.

LG Display will showcase its Thin Actuator Sound Solution at the annual CES convention in early January in Las Vegas. 

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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