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Kyocera moves quickly to market ‘through-your-head’ speaker system for phones

Schematic of KDDI–Kyocera’s “speakerless” Smart Sonic Receiver audio system for smartphones. Credit: Kyocera.

A few days ago I wrote about the buzz Kyocera is getting because of technology it has been unveiling in prototype KDDI cell phones. The technology transmits sounds through a special ceramic unit that passes vibrations directly from the phone through the user’s tissue and bone, reportedly supplying clear sounds even in environments that have loud ambient noise.

At the time I wrote the post, Kyocera was only saying that the phones bearing the sound system would be brought to market “quickly,” initially in Japan. Quickly apparently meant “immediately.” The company also quickly decided to brand the technology “Smart Sonic Receiver.”

On May 15, Kyocera officially kicked off the its new Urbano Progresso lineup based on an Android 4.0 system. According to a news release, it is “the world’s first smartphone to be equipped with Smart Sonic Receiver technology, which transmits clear voice quality to the user directly through vibrations in the handset’s display screen—a technology codeveloped by Kyocera and KDDI Corporation, based on Kyocera’s proprietary advanced ceramic technology.”

According to the release, rather than using a small built-in speaker, the Smart Sonic Receiver employs the display screen as the “speaker.” Kyocera says the SSR “uses a piezoelectric actuator to create vibrations along a wide area of the display screen which in turn transmits clear voice quality to the user. …As the vibrations cover a wide area of the screen, the user is able to hear clear voice quality regardless of where their ear is placed. Furthermore, by pressing the whole screen against your ear to create a cover, it is easier to hear in crowded and noisy environments.”

Phones with the Smart Sonic Receiver system may not be available in the US until 2013.