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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
PC screen turns into speaker
Alfred Hermida
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology staff

Computer screens of the future could offer sound as well as vision, eliminating the need for separate loud speakers.

NEC computer
The NEC computers are only on sale in Japan
A British company called NXT has found a way to turn a computer display into a speaker, without interfering with the quality of the picture.

Its SoundVu technology has already been built into two models by Japanese electronics giant NEC.

NXT says it also could be used for other products like flat-screen televisions and is talking to several electronics manufacturers about the technology.

The Cambridge-based firm is best known for creating the technology behind flat-panel speakers.

It is now turning its attention to the world of computing, capitalising on the trend to turn home PCs into digital entertainment centres.

High-quality audio

Hi-fi purists might shudder at the thought of listening to a computer screen, but NXT argues its technology provides a high-quality audio experience.

The world is going to be flat going forward
Andrew Williams, NXT
"If people are going to adopt our technology instead of conventional speakers then they will want to know that they are getting high-quality audio," said Andrew Williams, NXT Group Marketing Director.

"The sound quality is very good, probably better than with most multimedia speakers you would buy with a computer," he said. "It is a much better listening experience."

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".

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.

"The SoundVu technology doesn't interfere at all with the picture quality," said Mr Williams. "It means you get the sound coming directly from the screen, you get that movie theatre experience in the home."

The NEC computers that use the system were launched in Japan towards the end of last year. The Valuestar T and Valuestar FS both feature a 17-inch LCD monitor which doubles as a loudspeaker.

But NXT say their technology could be built into other products such as flat-screen televisions or even mobile phones.

"The world is going to be flat going forward," said Mr Williams.

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