LG Display has introduced innovative new “invisible” speaker technology for cars, with a flat panel display system that can be easily placed on car headrests and dashboards.
Developed as a drop-in replacement by the South Korean tech giant for traditional in-vehicle speakers, the Slim actuator sound solution (opens in a new tab) The system does away with the regularly protruding voice coils, cones, and magnets found in most loudspeakers and instead uses a film-like driver membrane.
These can vibrate on panels and various materials within the car’s interior and LG claims it can produce a “rich 3D immersive sound experience”.
The panels measure just 5.9 x 3.5 inches and, importantly, just a tenth of an inch thick, at a feather-light 1.4 ounces, “without compromising sound quality,” according to LG.
That slim design means the speakers could be located almost anywhere within a vehicle’s interior, and the tech giant suggests they could be hidden within headlinings and pillars, as well as headrests and dashboards.
The planar speaker system appears to be based on the CSOs (opens in a new tab) (Cinematic Sound OLED), which LG Display has shown 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 has stated that the Thin Actuator Sound Solution has been 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, and the general public will be able to hear them for the first time when the technology is showcased in January at CES 2023 in Las Vegas.
Analysis: Nothing Flat About This Car Audio Trailer
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, then we’d expect automakers to quickly embrace the technology as the benefits seem crystal clear.
Manufacturers would have more room to play within the cockpit and dash area, 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 enable significant savings in weight and, in turn, vehicle efficiency.
The most exciting prospect for us is that the slim actuator sound solution could also allow for a larger number of speakers that could be positioned freely around the interior of the vehicle. While 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 some interesting multi-speaker support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos.
Are you in the market for new audio equipment? Then check out our best Black Friday Bluetooth speaker deals.