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Displays Hardware

LCD Screens Double as Speakers 218

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has a story about a company who has developed an LCD screen that can produce sound as well. They claim that the sound quality is quite good, and compare it to average multimedia computer speakers. Also NEC is making and selling computers that use this technology in Japan. Hardware integration like this should make for some interesting appliances in the next few decades."
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LCD Screens Double as Speakers

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  • That's crazy! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by austinij ( 139193 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:29AM (#5631316) Homepage
    It seems like an awesome idea, but how does it handle stereo? And I'd love to hear a wav file or something of how it sounds...
    • Re:That's crazy! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThePretender ( 180143 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:31AM (#5631343) Homepage
      I'd love to hear a wav file or something of how it sounds...

      Well that would most certainly let you know how *your* speakers sound... but would tell you nothing about how their product sounds.
      • Re:That's crazy! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Directrix1 ( 157787 )
        I just don't understand why they paradoxically claim the quality to be quite good like basic multimedia speakers??!? Last I checked basic multimedia speakers sucked a donkeys ass. But oh well, I guess this is targetted at the L-top market. As far as I'm concerned I mute my laptop unless I have headphones plugged in. Because it always sounds like sh!t.
        • Re:That's crazy! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by evilviper ( 135110 )
          I guess this is targetted at the L-top market.

          I thought the same thing at first... It would be one hell of a step up for most notebook speakers. However, the reason most notebooks have croppy speakers is purely price. And somehow, I doubt they can make this LCD-speaker cheaper than two tiny little 1", 0.1 milliamp speakers.
          • by CriX ( 628429 )
            Yeah, but consumers might pay for enhanced sound quality. I don't know how these LCD speakers are supposed to work, but just the idea of a 15 inch wide speaker equals one very important thing missing from laptop sound: BASS!

            How sweet would it be to hear a nice deep, sub-woofer quality bass coming from a laptop? Very nice indeed.
        • Re:That's crazy! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Oculus Habent ( 562837 ) <(oculus.habent) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday March 31, 2003 @01:27PM (#5631921) Journal
          They can embed both circuitry and speakers on an LCD panel.

          Now, they need to make an LCD VNC-like device with stylus control and 802.11b built into the LCD itself. It could also dock and perform as a normal LCD screen while charging.

          Using an ultra-thin battery behind the screen, you could have an extremely portable device with long battery life.

          Would you buy a .5" thick 15" LCD screen that you could pick up and carry with you to connect to any device running a VNC-style service that laster 7 hours?
          • The new tablet PCs do this - you can get a docking framework with connectors for power, keyboard, and mouse. You fold the screen over into notebook/landscape mode, connect it to the dock, and it acts as a normal flatscreen. Very spiffy.
        • I don't think that the application would be for a desktop computer. However, it would be a handy for notebook computers where a good chunk of the volume of the device, and the surface area around the keyboard is occupied by speakers. Remember that for notebook computers space and weight are at a premium.
    • by PseudoThink ( 576121 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:36AM (#5631368)
      Stereo is accomplished in a single-monitor setup via synesthesia...they watermark the display image with an almost undetectable waveform representation of the second audio channel. Sort of like "joint stereo" in mp3s. But people with two monitors get true stereo. But I might be crazy...
      • How did this get modded Interesting?

        If you go to the FAQ on NXT's website [nxtsound.com], you'll discover they use superposition principles to produce virtual channels in the sweet spot. They can do two; supposedly three (L, R + center) is possible.

        Watermark, joint-stereo, give me a fucking break. Add nonsense buzzwords to a post and get modded up! A 2-step plan for slashdot success. (Unless you meant to be funny... in which case a big YOU ARE TEH 1Di07s!!! to the mods active today)
      • Mods, you can do better!

        The parent is supposed to by +1 funny, not interesting. Please RTFA, it is nothing like that anyway!
      • And in order to get 6.1 channel sound, you'd need to carry around an entire room with one of these screens making up each wall/floor/plane surface.

        Sorry, I'm just not going to carry around an entire room to get 6.1 sound on my laptop. Although a room made of LCD screens would be good.

        P.S. I'm joking.
      • Please, somebody mark the parent as "funny" instead of "interesting"! It's utter BS (if you want to learn something about synesthesia, try this [mit.edu] site), but admittedly, it's quite hilarious.
    • by pr0ntab ( 632466 ) <pr0ntab AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:56AM (#5631471) Journal
      NXT argues its technology has major advantages over conventional speakers. It says its SoundVU technology distributes frequencies evenly across a room, producing what audio buffs call a universal "sweet spot".

      I read that as it's a speaker that fills the room with a single channel of sound. If it was in stereo, then it wouldn't be room filling if you could discern the channels. You could probably deal with it if the screen created two virtual speakers by superposition using exciters on opposite sides of the monitor. But then the sweet spot would be very small, aimed at the person sitting a few feet away. Definitely not room filling.

      Plus, they go on to say how they intend to use it in mobile phones and PDAs. All single channel devices when used without headphones.

      • Because it's a distributed mode vibration speaker, you can't do things with the exciters to get stereo out of a single panel. You need two seperate panels for stereo.

        Also, the NXT panel does not do any bass at all - so you still need a woofer / sub-woofer of conventional design.
      • It says its SoundVU technology distributes frequencies evenly across a room, producing what audio buffs call a universal "sweet spot".

        Well thank goodness for this technology. I have been waiting for a product that will allow me to bother everyone in the room while playing video games.

    • "I'd love to hear a wav file or something of how it sounds" Reminds me of a request I got from a friend. *hands me a VHS tape* "Can ya record me a few episodes of Blahblahblah on HD-TV? I wanna see the diffrence." ....nope...not gonna work.
      • ....nope...not gonna work.

        Actually, I'm betting that it would. The difference here is that your friend wanted to go from a superior signal to something inferior...ie the vhs which obviously can't do hdtv res. I'm betting that the output of these things is inferior to a decent traditional speaker setup. Therefore, if the output of the panel was recorded uncompressed with high quality recording equipment, you would be able to discern the quality when played on a normal setup. If, however, the panel out
    • but how does it handle stereo?

      Well, we are using dual-display setup here in our office...
  • light music? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TomRitchford ( 177931 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:29AM (#5631317) Homepage
    and what will it do to the lifespan of the LED?
  • by visgoth ( 613861 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:29AM (#5631321)
    I can see the music!
  • by Unknown Poltroon ( 31628 ) <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:31AM (#5631336)
    Whont having the screen vibrating cause eyestrain?
    • Will songs with lots of bass cause the picture to distort? (press on a lcd, watch the colors!)

      Who'll be the innovative club/dj to use this to enhance visualization-esque displays?
  • *bzzt* wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:32AM (#5631348) Homepage
    I don't like LCDs to have _any_ form of integrated speakers.

    I have my surround sound system and don't want to pay for stuff I'll never use.
    • Re:*bzzt* wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jaycatt ( 530986 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:39AM (#5631393) Journal
      It would be nice for travelling presentations or training, however. The lightweight LCD is already useful for that. Not having to carry around speakers would also help with the travel weight.
    • I agree with ya Matt - if I buy a screen, it's because I want a screen. If I want speakers I'll buy some damm speakers!

      I tried to explain this to the TV guy when I bought my current TV - all I wanted was a big screen - the remote only needed buttons to turn it on and off, and switch between the various inputs. I also tried explaining this to the Ky engineer. I gave up in the end and let him use the internal speakers - and then re-wired it after he left...
    • Re:*bzzt* wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrtroy ( 640746 )
      Just because it does not suit your particular needs, think of all the niches this fills.

      I personally have my sweetass stereo hooked up to my computer, however, if I am listening to a CD or the radio I still like computer volume. So...I still have some decent computer speakers.

      Now, if my monitor had integrated speakers, that would save some equipment and maybe money.

      Then, what about the 3/4 of computer users who have those ghetto computer speakers or none at all? This will be super-duper-fantastic f
  • Appliances (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaemonGem ( 557674 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:33AM (#5631358) Homepage Journal
    Oh boy, soon my microwave will be playing techno, and my keyboard will be outputting a crummy rendition of Tchaikovsky. I can't wait.
  • Image integrity? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mikey-San ( 582838 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:34AM (#5631360) Homepage Journal
    I'm no LCD scientist (though, I can tell you how they're made, thanks Apple Service Training for Losers with No Fscking Life), but it seems to me like heavy low-frequency sound coming /through/ the LCD would alter its color accuracy, at the least.

    Granted, I have to put a good amount of pressure on my LCD to make it change color deeply, but don't you think if heavy low-frequency sound came out of it, something would happen, at least occasionally? What about the almost paper-thin glass sandwiched in the LCD layers?

    I dunno. Seems to me like sound was made for speakers, not a display medium.

    Does anyone out there have more info about the crap I just wrote? :-)
    • Re:Image integrity? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Musashi Miyamoto ( 662091 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:43AM (#5631417)
      It sounds like these speakers are similar to Martin Logan electrostatic speakers, and the screen will not produce anything close to low-frequency sound. The screen will likely require a midrange/woofer to reproduce the full spectrum of sound.

      Electrostat speakers are typically transparent like glass, but held between two screens to allow the sound to travel. The article says the company claims the monitor has a "universal sweet spot", but that is probably corporate marketing talk for "no sweet spot". Most panel based electrostat speakers have a very very tiny sweet spot, and you need to be sitting perfectly between the two speakers.

      From howstuff works:

      These speakers vibrate air with a large, thin, conductive diaphragm panel. This diaphragm panel is suspended between two stationary conductive panels that are charged with electrical current from a wall outlet. These panels create an electrical field with a positive end and a negative end. The audio signal runs a current through the suspended panel, rapidly switching between a positive charge and a negative charge. When the charge is positive, the panel is drawn toward the negative end of the field, and when the charge is negative, it moves toward the positive end in the field.
      • by Entropy_ah ( 19070 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:54PM (#5631742) Homepage Journal
        The screen will likely require a midrange/woofer to reproduce the full spectrum of sound.

        No dude, they'll just build the woofer into your keyboard. Though I fear it will turn into some kind of high-tech ouija board when you crank up the Dr. Dre.
      • I suspect that this would be really nice for laptops, because the frequencies where you can detect where the sound is coming from come from straight in front of you, not off to the side. Of course, you don't get stereo, but a laptop won't give you sufficient speaker separation to be good anyway. Do the low-frequency stuff from under the keyboard, because it travels well and can't be localized anyway.
      • Re:Image integrity? (Score:3, Informative)

        by nattt ( 568106 )
        These speakers are nothing like the electrostatics you mention. They work on a completely different principle - the distributed mode loudspeaker. They use exciters (moving coil units) to drive a panel into breakup mode (chaotic) where it produces sound. You can turn lots of types of materials into speakers this way - the trick being where you place the exciters and the exact specs of the material. The sound produced is an area source rather than a line or point source of conventional (or some electrostati
  • Nice One (Score:5, Funny)

    by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:38AM (#5631381) Homepage
    Great news - because we all know how expensive speakers are and how cheap LCD screens are! Imagine the cost savings... Jolyon
  • integrated cameras? It seems like an integrated camera would be much more useful for applications like video phones. The way these devices are set up now the angle is all wrong and it doesn't look like you are looking into the eyes of the person you are speaking with. If you put small cameras interspersed with the pixels you should be able to get the desired result.

    Or maybe I'm just stupid.
    • Or, use two cameras at either side of the screen and provide the viewer with a stereo image of you looking at the center of the screen. Could work... what you'd want is a mouse pointer of two eyes (o.o) that you move over the face of the person you're talking to so that the computer can shift the stereo image as needed.
  • Not New Tech... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FosterSJC ( 466265 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:39AM (#5631395)
    First, obviously, the sound isn't coming from the light or the screen or whatever. There is a thin acrylic sheet that is used as a sounding board:

    The technology works by placing a thin acrylic panel over the computer display. This is attached at the edges to a couple of exciters.

    These moving coil motors make the acrylic screen vibrate to produce the sound.

    This is the same tech, essentially, that drives those flat-panel computer speakers, and the Soundbug [thinkgeek.com] over at thinkgeek.
  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:40AM (#5631399) Homepage
    ...two great tastes that go great together!
  • laptops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snuffub ( 173401 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:40AM (#5631400) Homepage
    This could be great for the laptop market where "average" multimedia speakers would sound alot better than those tin cans.
  • A paradox? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ignoramus ( 544216 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:41AM (#5631406) Homepage

    These screens get thinner, yet they pump up the volume


  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:42AM (#5631415) Homepage Journal

    ..every time I crank up some Motorhead [imotorhead.com] I'd be picking my display up from the floor.
  • by dubbayu_d_40 ( 622643 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:50AM (#5631452)
    If I played Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds on such a device?

    Or not...

  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info@NoSpaM.devinmoore.com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:51AM (#5631453) Homepage Journal
    I can see the screen flickering now and then on older (or especially low refresh rate) setups, but wouldn't the screen vibrating to sound really mess with the picture? Still, it sounds like a good idea in that it would save more desk space, especially if you had a really BIG LCD on the wall that did away with really big desktop speakers.
  • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) <gpoopon@ g m a il.com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:52AM (#5631457)
    So, will the vibrations do pretty much the same thing as anti-aliasing and make all of your fonts look smooth around the edges? ;)
  • by digifuzz ( 182844 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:53AM (#5631461) Homepage
    i could see this really taking off in the hand-held market, where the machines are really small and would benefit from having less components to have to cram into their small encasing..

    ~ fuzz
  • OK, I admit I'm kind of an audio snob. I have full size, full range speakers at my desk, because I like to really listen to music while I work / play / whatever.

    But I don't think that *anyone* thinks that "the sound quality is quite good" coming from "average multimedia computer speakers".

    I don't mean to knock this technology - if it's like multimedia speakers, it's probably great for people who just want to hear the Happy Sound when their computer boots up, and to watch some video clips from the news on
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoiNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @11:58AM (#5631478) Journal
    Scientist #1: "You got your liquid crystals all over my average multimedia speakers!"

    Scientist #2: "Well, you got your electromagnets all over my active matrix organic composite screen prototype!"

    *blink blink*

    In unison, reeling with implication: "Whooooooooaaa...."

  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:00PM (#5631486) Homepage Journal
    Sure, it's interesting, but it seems like another inappropriate use of technology. Just because something is possible to do, doesn't mean it's worth doing.

    Just like the combined TV/VCR units, sure, it's nice when both functions work well, but if either function takes a dive, you're left with something that's less useful than either would have been if bought separately.

    Maybe it'll be fine for people who don't particularly care about sound (and/or visual) quality, but I think this is another time when discrete components are the appropriate way to do it. It's not like the world has been sadly lacking for want of a speaker-monitor.

    One question: what happens when you turn it up to 11?
  • by zaqattack911 ( 532040 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:02PM (#5631498) Journal
    Firstly, aren't LCDs on their way out for cheaper, better quality, and thinner OLED displays?

    Once those are out, there is no need for a backlight, and I seriously doubt people will want to waste space putting in a crappy ass "sound membrane" (that's what I call it) inside.

    Yes they are right, this sort of speaker does create a universal "sweet spot" because it distributes the sound evenly over distance but there is a shitload more thats needed to produce good sound. The freq range of the mambrane alone is complete ass, so they would have to sell you subwoofers integrated with computer case to rattle around your HDs harmoniously :)
    • When OLEDs come out they will put a acrylic membrane over the OLED screen and sell it .
      From the article it looks like the membrane is external to the screen, basically put a plastic sheet over the LCD and made it vibrate. It, as it looks to me, doesnt have anything to do with the screen technology.They did it to LCD (and not CRT) because laptops have a space constraint.
  • Hi-fidelity sound? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by solarlux ( 610904 ) <noplasma@@@yahoo...com> on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:03PM (#5631502)
    Interesting concept. The article speaks this producing "high-quality audio" -- yet I assume this must be mainly mid to high frequency sound. Any significant production of lower frequencies would certainly cause screen vibration, which might give new meaning to the term "flicker".
  • flat??? (Score:2, Funny)

    by wickedj ( 652189 )
    "The world is going to be flat going forward," said Mr Williams.

    Ahhh... come on, they've been beating into my head that the world was round since elementary school, how do they expect me change my thinking now?!?!
  • i think this will probably net some cool celly-telly designs. i'd like a t-mobile sidekick, with the screen/speaker.
  • CRT/Speaker (Score:3, Interesting)

    by silvakow ( 91320 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:13PM (#5631541)
    I thought the inside of the CRT looked more like a speaker, with a big magnet and a speaker-cone shape coming off of it going to the glass. But, alas, the CRT screens that were also speakers were made by Packard Bell or Compaq and had speakers attached to the side of the screen. It's quite interesting that the LCD beat the CRT to market with this technology, being that CRTs have been out for a while longer, ie. in everyones homes by the 1950s
  • by MoeMoe ( 659154 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:14PM (#5631549)
    Hearing through visual devices is cool but seeing through audio devices is cooler!
    If you want something really cool try this:

    Get this [slashdot.org] (right click link >Save As), look through your headphone jack in your cdrom, click extracted file at the same time. Enjoy! *Attention Mods* File was checked virus free, please imagine what could happen before rating.
  • is how they get the thing to vibrate enough to make decent sound without having the screen image vibrate and otherwise cause nausea-inducing eye strain.
  • Noisy LCDs (Score:3, Funny)

    by Glass of Water ( 537481 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:25PM (#5631613) Journal
    Now, if anyone can tell me how to get my LCD to STOP making noises, that I'd pay you for.
  • surround sound DVD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by uwbbjai ( 661340 )
    If I want to watch DVD in surround sound, I'd need 4 of these LCD screens. Too bad DVDs don't usually have multi-angled views... Imagine what that means to 3D games, you actually have to turn your head around to see what's behind you.. This technology can make some things really interesting
  • There's a big difference between "quite good" and "average computer speakers". So which one is it?

  • by djdole ( 588163 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:50PM (#5631724)
    If they can place this membrane on the screen, they should open up to placing this membrane on other things....
    ...Toilet seats, window glass (windshield?), coffee cups, sneakers?.

    Then again...maybe not.
    I fear the day my cubicle talks to me.
  • by sogoodsofarsowhat ( 662830 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @12:51PM (#5631728)
    is that what THEY are calling good sound is actually CRAPPY sound. I have spent my life in the audio industry serving the speaker makers around the world. This NXT and flat panel stuff pales incomparison to any 1/2 way decent speaker system. Sure for a laptop they may even make sence (keep things light and small) but if you want great sound from your laptop try a good set (or even not so good set) of headphones. But to think that you can replace your good speakers with this technology is a luaghable joke, JUST LIKE NXT's technology. Its cute and novel, but not really a practical application. It just proves that anything these 'new high tech' speakers can do, older speaker technology can do better, cheaper, and with way better results. But then again most people are happy with crappy sound, and these are the same people that purchase speakers based on Peak Music Power and not based on HOW THEY SOUND!!!! Ah ignorance is bliss, and there are lots of blissful people in this world!!!
  • That could have the effect fo making a cell phone smaller yet making the display larger. Cooooool

    - Thomas;
  • by kid_wonder ( 21480 )
    Hardware integration like this should make for some interesting appliances in the next few decades.

    Like what? Let's hear some ideas of other integrations you'd like to see...

    Refrigerator/Web browser? wow.
    Watch/Telephone? uh huh.
    Car/Plane? dream on.
    Person/Jet pack? wake up.

    You probably get all this from a speaker/LCD, right? Get down off the damn cloud. All they did was merge an LCD and speaker - flat speakers have been around for years using a variety of materials.
  • We have these things called 'speakers' that do this now.

  • Now... How do I get it onto a laptop LCD?
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Monday March 31, 2003 @04:22PM (#5632968) Homepage
    Screw font anti-aliasing. Just shake the screen a little. Looks smoother already.

    I like it.

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