updated 06:55 pm EST, Fri January 13, 2012
KDDI Labs and Kyocera make vibration-based phone
Japan's KDDI Labs and Kyocera used a booth at the back of CES to demonstrate a surprisingly clever audio technology in the US for the first time. Badged as a speakerless smartphone, it vibrates the audio canal to transmit any audio through the entire body of the device it's playing from. We could listen from the top, bottom, or even the back of the prototype Android phone the group had on show, and it was reasonably loud and clear even in a noisy CES show floor environment.
The nature of the technique is such that it can even work through earplugs, possibly letting owners keep listening to music in an extremely noise-heavy place. At the same time, it can still have its sound improved through headphones, which we were shown at the same time.
Little is known about the inside of the phone other than that it's using a customized version The co-developed invention would not only lets someone cover their ears completely while continuing to hear a call but should lead to truly dust- and waterproof phones that don't need exposed speakers to work.
A Kyocera-made phone should reach KDDI's cellular network in the summer. KDDI Labs when it talked to Electronista said that it was possible the technology would reach other devices, but its partner's phone would come first.