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Gadget screen as speaker, too? Motorola wants to make it so

The company is trying to secure a patent that would basically allow a mobile device's screen to double as a speaker or "acoustic apparatus."

Motorola Mobility has applied for a patent that would turn your mobile display into an acoustic device.

According to the patent application, which hit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Web site yesterday, Motorola has developed a technology that would allow a mobile device's display to "produce a substantial usable audio area particularly for private and speakerphone mode conversations." In addition, the display would deliver haptic feedback when touched.

The invention could help Motorola Mobility, which is now a fully owned subsidiary of Google, to dramatically change how smartphones look and act, since as the company points out, handsets typically require a separate display and speakers to produce visuals and sound.

"Conventionally, the dimensions of a display lens for a portable electronic device, such as a mobile phone, are driven by the desired viewable display area and the industrial design of the phone," Motorola wrote in its application. "Therefore, the display lens is not often thought of as an acoustic apparatus or speaker. More often than not it is because those skilled in the art have long recognized that a display lens often has a poor dynamic response due to its physical dimensions."

With its invention, however, Motorola believes that it can change that by making the screen a "free floating display" featuring a "stiffener ring" mounted to the device. That ring will affect "modal density and modal distribution," and a "piezoelectric supporting structure surrounds a display, and is electrically driven to produce an acoustic signal in one mode and a vibratory haptic signal in another mode."

It's important to note that this is just an application, which companies file all of the time. Whether this will actually make its way to the market remains to be seen.