Google Acquires UK Startup That Turns Objects Into Speakers

Google acquired a United Kingdom-based startup Redux which specializes in technology that turns various objects with flat surfaces into speakers, as revealed by the British firm's website that went out of commission last year. The purchase itself wasn't publicized in any manner and has only been spotted by Bloomberg on Thursday, with estimates suggesting the deal being agreed in the second half of 2017 as the transfer of the startup's shares to a Google-owned Irish company was completed last month. No financial details of the acquisition are presently known, though the deal may have ended up being worth north of $10 million, with Redux raising half of that sum in capital funding last March alone.

The purpose of the purchase is equally unclear; while Redux boasted about its audio technology, it also held dozens of patents in related fields. Alternatively, Google may have primarily been interested in Redux's talent, with Alphabet's subsidiary being one of the remaining few Silicon Valley giants that still aren't afraid to take risks with direct talent acquisitions even though such moves are often unsuccessful and don't result in long-term employees. The Mountain View, California-based company has a long history of talent purchases, with the latest one being agreed late last year with HTC for approximately $1.1 billion. The acquisition is understood to have been absolute in nature and entirely paid off previous investors in Redux, including Arie Capital which led the startup's multi-million funding round in early 2017.

Regardless of the exact motivation Google had to move forward with the purchase, the deal is widely interpreted as the latest step in the company's efforts to bolster its hardware division amid a major consumer electronics push which started in late 2016 and continued throughout last year, having led to the release of the Pixel Android flagship lineup and the Google Home range of smart speakers, as well as a number of artificial intelligence-powered gadgets such as the Pixel Buds and Google Clips. The firm's growing hardware ambitions also prompted it to establish a major presence at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in a bid to advertise its latest offerings. It remains to be seen how Redux's technology ends up being implemented into Google's future products and if it was even the main reason for the acquisition.

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Dominik Bosnjak

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Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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