'Invisible' Bluetooth speaker comes from the future

Credit: Raymond Wong/DVICE

Like the swarm of celebrity headphones that suddenly appeared, it seems like everyone — and we do mean everyone — is trying to get you to buy a Bluetooth speaker. It's gotten to the point where they're all mostly pretty terrible in design and sound. But stick with us for a second. The ClearView Clio Bluetooth speaker is unlike any you've ever seen before.

Check this out: the Clio is a 2.1 Bluetooth speaker system that uses a thin curved acrylic glass transducer to disperse sound in multiple directions. The base houses all of the guts along with a 2-inch woofer and controls on the side. It sells for $349, which isn't cheap, but definitely about right for a gadget that's the first to use this kind of tech.

But let's back up a little. Back in 2006, ClearView was called Emo Labs and the plan was to integrate this unique "invisible" speaker system that uses piezo-electric actuators to basically generate sound into TV displays. The company had hopes of partnering up with TV makers to create flat screen TVs with speakers that basically wouldn't suck (or in nicer words: speakers that don't sound tinny and flat).

As is the case with a lot of emerging technologies, the TV plan didn't pan out, and so here we are in 2014; ClearView ready to release its own product.

The speaker is rather impressive itself with sound that's capable of filling an entire room. But what's most exciting is what's to come. While TV makers may not have picked up the tech, there's still hope that piezo-electric-based speakers could be integrated into future products once people see the potential.

One ClearView rep pitched this idea: imagine the iconic glass cube-shaped Fifth Avenue Apple Store blasting music from nothing but its four walls and ceiling of glass. That's a mighty pitch, indeed, but we're think there's a more practical use case: smartphones, tablets and laptops. Instead of having speaker grills cut out, why not have the sound pump out from the screen. Or flat 4K TVs. Actually, make that curved 4K TVs. Now, that would be a visual and audio experience to relish in.

Posted on location at CES 2014. All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.

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