As a global leader in both connected car technologies and audio innovations, HARMAN is focused on innovating with the vehicle occupants in mind. HARMAN integrates emerging technology with software-driven audio to ensure personalized connectivity and trusted safety in an autonomous future. Audio tones, such as HARMAN’s Personalized Audio Alerts, serve as a robust example of how sound can elevate the autonomous experience and play a critical role in informing and protecting human drivers during a ride.
Whether it’s a traffic light, stop sign, or crosswalk, people always honk their horns, flash their lights, or make eye contact to communicate with those around them. But this form of dialogue may very well become a distant memory once autonomous vehicles enter the market. Drivers will have the opportunity to catch up on work, watch a movie or take a nap, all while the vehicle operates without compromising safety.
It may be several years before computers start operating a personal vehicle. However, Level 3 autonomy, where humans and machines become co-drivers in an automobile is fast approaching. In an effort to meet demand, and mainstream autonomous vehicles as quickly as possible, the auto industry is working tirelessly to refine technology such as LiDAR, radar sensors, and cameras so that this equipment can effectively be the eyes and ears of these vehicles. In addition to navigating the world and communicating with other vehicles on the road, autonomous vehicles will need to communicate with the person sitting behind the wheel as well to build trust and a sense of safety.
As unimaginable as it may seem, tomorrow’s vehicles will understand the passenger’s mood, health and also whether they’re paying attention on the road. There are safety concerns with drivers completely taking their eyes off the road once autonomy is commonplace, but audio technology can help reorient or heighten attention when necessary, and allow them to relax otherwise. At CES 2018, HARMAN announced Personalized Audio Alerts, a feature included within Moodscape, a solution which uses mood-based features to redefine and personalize comfort and entertainment in the daily commute. Created with safety in mind for the consumer, Personalized Audio Alerts is a feature that heightens an individual’s attention to navigation, traffic and weather incidents through directional audio, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road and let their ears be their guide. Knowing, or more precisely, hearing what is coming and where it is coming from, car passengers can respond more quickly to prompts and other alerts while they are busy catching up on email or reading the news.
The automotive industry today is quickly evolving and will continue to move towards a software-and-services-focused business model as shared mobility continues to mount in importance. While cameras and LiDAR are critical in serving as the vehicle’s eyes to navigate its surroundings, audio tones can serve as a comforting, added safety feature that brings the passenger some peace of mind in case their eyes are distracted from the road ahead.