LG unveils vibrating panels that turn car dashboards and headrests into speakers

LG Display has developed a new invisible speaker technology for cars, which uses a vibrating panel the size of a passport to generate sound. The technology, developed with an unnamed global audio company, is expected to be available in car interiors next year, in places like dashboards and headliners.

The South Korean tech giant's Thin Actuator Sound Solution is promoted as a replacement for traditional speaker systems in cars and other vehicles. Unlike current car speaker systems that use heavy components such as voice coils, sound plates, and magnets, the Thin Actuator Sound Solution uses LG Display's thin-film actuator technology to generate sound by vibrating the display panel and various materials in the car, which LG Display claims will lead to a "rich 3D immersive sound experience.

The panel itself is 2.5mm thick (approximately the superposition of two coins) and measures 150mm x 90mm, enabling it to be installed in unconventional locations such as dashboards, headliners, pillars, and headrests. According to LG Display, the panel weighs 40 grams, making it 30 percent the weight of conventional car speakers and 10 percent thicker.

Both LG Display and Sony use similar vibrating panels in OLED TVs, but, while the technology itself isn't a new innovation, it hasn't seen widespread adoption as a replacement for traditional sound systems. LG Display says it plans to commercialize its thin actuator sound solution for cars in the first half of next year, and we'll hear it in action at CES 2023 in Las Vegas in January.

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