Samsung's "Sound on Display" technology (SoD) will be making a big appearance at the upcoming CES 2019 event in Las Vegas, according to recent reports out of the company's home region. The technology would abandon in-television speakers in favor of audio that's generated and emitted directly from the display panel. Several unspecified Chinese manufacturers are also expected to showcase their own smartphones utilizing some form of display-based audio at the same event. Samsung's showings will reportedly go beyond smartphones to include demonstrations of the technology incorporated via OLED panels in both mobile devices and televisions. Unnamed sources within the industry also indicate that commercialization of Sound on Display or similar technology from Chinese manufacturers will happen in the second half of 2019.
Building up hype for the Samsung Galaxy S10
There aren't many details regarding exactly which devices will be shown or about the technology itself but Samsung did show off its SoDs prior to CES 2019 at SID Display Week 2018 in May. As with that previous introduction, the devices shown at CES will likely be prototypes but could be much further along in development. Previous rumors had suggested that Samsung's own version of SoD would make its first commercial appearance in the Samsung Galaxy S10 family of flagship Android devices. The current expectation is that those will be unveiled officially at the end of February at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona. Since CES 2019 takes place from January 8 through January 12, the timing would make sense. Revealing the technology at CES would help Samsung build up hype just before launching it in a handset for real-world consumer use.
The technology itself will likely work like previous variants from other OEMs such as LG. The concept is not entirely dissimilar to bone conduction-based audio in that it largely depends on vibrations that don't depend on a speaker diaphragm to work. Instead, a piezoelectric body is connected directly to the display panel, with the screen acting as a diaphragm. Like LG's variation on the concept, Samsung's panels will reportedly be based on its OLED screen technology, which is particularly well-suited for the technology because of OLED's simplistic structure and lack of a backlighting system. LCD panels can work but the quality and level of audio are diminished due to the structure of the liquid crystals and backlighting unit.
Nearly the entire smartphone industry has spent the past several years trying to work down the size of screen bezels using any number of novel technologies ranging from pop-up cameras to the invention of the much-maligned screen notch. Although slimmed down over that period, speakers have been among the most restrictive obstructions holding devices back mostly because an earpiece is still required for any device claiming to be a phone. Samsung's SoD could offer one solution to the problem since the technology would completely eliminate the need for that particular component in any capacity. Depending on as-yet-unrevealed details regarding the scale of the technology required to make SoD work, it could also feasibly save space internally. That would allow for larger batteries, new components, or other improvements to be made in addition to enabling the display to occupy the entire front face of a handset.