The ubiquity of voice-enabled tech and our hyper-connected lifestyles is placing a new importance on being able to communicate freely and clearly on the go, and this is especially true for the car. Think about it. How many times have you struggled to be heard by other passengers or someone on the phone above the din of the car cabin? Not only is this frustrating; it can be downright unsafe when it distracts a driver’s focus from the road.

At CES 2019, we showcased a new suite of scalable audio-based solutions that tackle these problems from three angles:

Premium Communications Speaker

1) Talking with other vehicle occupants
Through the smart combination of microphones, voice processing and in-vehicle audio signal processing, In-Car Communication (ICC) technology strips away unwanted noise and enhances what you need to hear. No more raised voices, straining forward or twisting around in seats! It doesn’t matter if you’re in the driver’s seat or the third row of an SUV, ICC works front-to-back and back-to-front, so your fellow travelers always sound like they are speaking right in front of you – no yelling required.

Better yet, unlike other solutions in-market ICC is “always on” and completely seamless, meaning no buttons to push to activate the feature.  And there’s no need to turn down the audio volume or to stop other activity -- ICC automatically adjusts to vehicle’s current environment, taking into account things like music volume and road noise, allowing for clear communication amongst all occupants all the time.

2) Talking on the phone or with voice assistants

Premium Communications Voice Button

How many times have you been on the phone with someone while they are in the car and it’s difficult to hear them clearly? Between the AC pumping, music, road noise and kids in the backseat, a productive conversation on the go seems near impossible.

With ClearChat, calls made from the vehicle will always be crystal clear and frustration-free. ClearChat utilizes world-leading beam forming microphones, echo cancellation, and noise reduction algorithms to remove unwanted cabin noise for listeners on the receiving end.

 This applies to voice assistants as well. As automakers increasingly activate voice-enabled technologies in their vehicles to meet customer demand, ClearChat will be a huge value-add. Because who wants to repeat “give me directions to McDonalds” to the navigation app five times to get it right!

Premium Communications demo 3

3) Personalized experiences
Personal Communication Zones essentially extends and personalizes ICC and ClearChat benefits to each seat, offering occupants privacy and clarity for voice assisted tasks and phone calls. Only the intended voice is picked up by call recipients and voice assistants. The solution also creates a sonic cocoon, so one person’s chatter doesn’t interfere with other passengers.  

TopSpeed described it best: “Your kids can watch Moana in the car with the volume set to 11 and you won’t have to worry about your conversation getting interrupted by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s rendition of ‘You’re Welcome.’

When you think about it, Personal Communication Zones essentially gives everyone in the car their own voice assistant, when only the driver truly has one in cars today.

Have it Your Way
The icing on the cake is that HARMAN’s Premium Communications Solutions are compatible with all virtual personal assistant services available in the market. You’re free to connect to your favorite device in the car – Siri, Bixby and Alexa will get it right, every time.  

“Sometimes transforming the in-car experience can be as simple as fixing a longstanding problem we can all relate to,” said Bill Wyman, VP of Global Marketing for Lifestyle Automotive. “Once you experienced Premium Communications first-hand, you can see why this technology is a must-have. The feedback from the show floor at CES was great! The comment we heard most was ‘can I have this in my car… now?’”

Behind the magic of Premium Communications is AudioworX, HARMAN’s proprietary open-software audio framework which we introduced at CES 2018. With AudioworX, automakers can easily add-on and scale in-car UX solutions across their lineups. Together, these technologies address the evolving vehicle interior of today, while satisfying demand for personalization and elevated communication experiences.