Matsushita to ship embedded-speaker displays

Matsushita Electronic Industrial Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary Matsushita Electronic Components Co. Ltd. will start shipping samples of transparent flat-panel speakers for mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) next month, they announced Monday.

The products, the Acoustic Panel and the Acoustic Touch-Panel, use Sound Window technology jointly developed by Matsushita, better known for its Panasonic brand name, and its subsidiary.

Sound Window consists of a transparent panel mounted in front of a device's display and a separate driver to vibrate the air between the panel and the display to create sound. The panels are thin and flexible, so they do not affect the sound quality when they are touched. Because the panel is placed over the LCD (liquid crystal display), the mobile device does not require speaker holes.

The driver can be placed anywhere on the device so long as it vibrates the air between the panel and the display, allowing more flexible design of mobile devices, the statement said.

The Acoustic Panel is aimed mainly at mobile phones and compact music players, and the Acoustic Touch-Panel, which has a touch-screen panel function, at PDAs and car navigation systems.

The Osaka companies plan to start mass production in March next year, when they expect to manufacture 1 million Acoustic Panel units and 500,000 Acoustic Touch-Panel units a month.

Prices will vary as products will be customized for each customer. To begin with the products will cost slightly more than a screen and a speaker bought separately, Tetsuo Murakami of Matsushita Electronic Components, said.

The company is customizing the products for several companies and in talks with many others including overseas vendors, Murakami said.

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