As DEMOfall in September, before an audience of sleepy journalists and venture capitalists, Emo Labs CEO Jason Carlson took the stage with a TV and a giant set of speakers playing the Beach Boys.
Then he whipped off the speaker box to reveal the real source of the sound: a sheet of clear plastic. There were audible gasps. Dozens of digital cameras flashed at once. Emo had invented invisible speakers.
"I can't tell you how many times we've sat in front of engineers, and they keep asking, 'Where's the sound coming from again?'" says Carlson. "It's like their minds don't want them to believe it." Emo went on to win $500,000 and the conference's DEMOgod title.
The company is tight-lipped on pricing and on which electronics giants it has struck deals with. Those companies should make their own announcements in the first half of 2010. (The products will not carry Emo Labs branding.) Carlson says the technology will add about a 10% price premium, so consumers should pay $100 more for a $1,000 TV equipped with Emo's speaker.
Electronics firms have been deep-discounting their products for some time now, and even Carlson admits they are wary of any technology that could drive up the price of their products. Still, given that 160 million flat-panel TVs and 150 million laptops were sold in 2009, even a tiny slice of that market would be lucrative for Emo. -Chris Taylor
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