What The Tech?: Meet The World’s First ‘Invisible Speaker’ System

ClearView’s Clio speaker was created right here in Massachusetts.

Photo via ClearView

Photo via ClearView

The race to create powerful, crisp sound from a speaker system is matched with the challenge of coming up with a design that’s easy on the eyes.

But for the one Waltham-based company, the idea was clear as day.

ClearView Audio, which specializes in exactly that, unveiled its latest invention this week at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, a trade show and hot spot for tech geeks looking to pounce on the latest technologies hitting the mainstream market. Called Clio, ClearView has created a virtually see-through, wireless speaker that outputs sound in multiple directions.

“We set out to release people from the limits of traditional speakers—black boxes, or speakers in different colors and shapes that visually compromise the aesthetic of a room,” the company said in a statement. “We envisioned a glass speaker that would disappear into any room or style; virtually unnoticeable except for the rich and clear stereo sound streaming from both sides of the speaker.”

Dubbed the “first acrylic glass speaker,” the concept first came about 10 years ago, according to company representatives. From the initial design later came the final product they showed off at CES 2014: a transparent sound option that hides in plain sight, and spits out audio from the sides of the system, rather than solely from the back like traditional black-box speakers.

But, in a twist, it rivals its competitors even further by also allowing sound from behind, creating a 360-degree sort of experience.

Here’s how it works:

Edge Motion technology uses a very different mechanical principle to generate sound. Instead of pushing from behind, like a traditional cone speaker, Edge Motion-driven speakers use piezo-electric actuators to stimulate the sides of an optically clear acrylic glass stereo transducer to produce an extremely efficient, piston-like motion. The result is a thin, lightweight and invisible transducer that produces rich, full sound across the audio range.

That’s how the panoramic, “room-filling sound” is made, according to one of the speaker company’s representatives.

Publications covering CES 2014 have been giving the Clio accolades for its innovation in the sound-system industry. The Los Angeles Times even called it one of the “most eye-catching gadgets” at this year’s tradeshow.

In an online gallery showing off their speaker system, you actually have to search for the glass screen as though it were a hunt for Waldo.

The Clio, named after the goddess of music, retails at about $350, and is available for pre-order. Here’s a video for more info:

ClearView Clio Invisible Wireless Speaker [CES 2014] from Desire This on Vimeo.