CES 2015, LAS VEGAS – HARMAN, the premium global audio, visual, infotainment, and enterprise automation group (NYSE:HAR), is extending its acoustic expertise beyond premium car audio with new technologies designed to improve the overall in-vehicle sound experience for driver and passengers alike. Leveraging its 60-plus years of deep expertise in acoustic design, tuning and signal processing, HARMAN is introducing two solutions – Individual Sound Zones and HALOsonic -- that build on the principles of active noise management and sonic personalization to create a more comfortable and enjoyable in-cabin environment.
According to a recent HARMAN survey, quality audio is a highly desirable component of all vehicles, with 88 percent of respondents recognizing that music makes driving more pleasurable. The top noise distraction for drivers today is road noise. While a majority of respondents use their vehicles for commuting purposes, the survey also revealed that three out of five drivers see their car as a “people carrier” (at least two passengers per vehicle). The impact of the in-car audio system is expected to increase in importance as the use of automobiles evolves and as more people see their cars becoming more central to work and like “living rooms on wheels.” HARMAN’s heritage of delivering great sound in the studio, on the stage, at home and in the car for more than 20 automakers worldwide provides unique and unmatched perspective regarding the future of sound and new in-car experiences.
“With global sales of automotive premium audio systems expected to grow at 7-10% annually, many automakers are working to distinguish their in-vehicle audio solutions through unique brands, features and technologies,” according to Mark Boyadjis, a Senior Analyst & Manager of Infotainment & HMI at IHS Automotive. “Wattage and speaker count doesn’t cut it anymore. Innovations in software, hardware, materials, and audio source content are becoming the key components to improving the in-vehicle audio experience.”
Individual Sound Zones
HARMAN’s Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) is a new in-cabin technology that enables drivers and passengers to create sonic zones between individuals for the ultimate personalized car audio experience.
While there are many different sounds generated in-vehicle, not all of these sounds are relevant to all passengers. Today's explosion of portable electronics and in-vehicle technologies like navigation, hands free calling and Bluetooth connections have dramatically altered our driving habits and in-cabin experience. Navigation prompts and phone calls are important for drivers, but interrupt the music for passengers. Games, audio books and digital videos for one passenger result in a cabin filled with sonic clutter for all. Harman’s new ISZ technology can help reduce that clutter, ensuring that all occupants in the vehicle hear only what matters to them.
“Individual Sound Zones and the HALOsonic technology suite enable automakers to offer enhanced experiences to passengers, as well as imagine new possibilities as the car itself continues to evolve in use beyond the traditional ‘people mover,’” said Michael Mauser, president, Lifestyle Division, HARMAN. “With HARMAN’s science-based architecture and acoustic precision, we’re pushing the barriers of sound and creating the ultimate personalized experience throughout the vehicle cabin.”
ISZ is an innovative acoustic design and complementary digital signal processing that maximizes speaker directivity and minimizes crosstalk in and between the zones in a vehicle for a more personalized in-cabin experience. ISZ does not eliminate all sound signals, but tunes the vehicle to ensure passengers audio experience is optimized for their location in the vehicle and current mode of listening.
ISZ utilizes a vehicle’s existing audio system speakers with the addition of headrest speakers equipped with micro speaker technology, along with thin and flat Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers in the vehicle ceiling. The digital signal processing has been specifically adjusted to the vehicle cabin and speakers such that it will temper the signals from other zones, regardless of whether they are music, voice or other noises. Each passenger can activate and control their “zone.” Passengers can still hear other sounds in the cabin, but those sounds are controlled in a way that limits the interruptions and distractions to each passenger’s own sound experience. The configuration can be customized based on the cabin design and layout of vehicles, as well as type of vehicle (i.e. sedan vs. minivan).
Individual Sound Zones can be integrated into any HARMAN in-car audio system via the amplifier, providing automakers limitless possibilities to further enhance in-car listening experiences. It is available now to all automakers.
To tackle the acoustic challenges within the unique automotive environment of traditional, electric and hybrid cars, HARMAN created HALOsonic, an award-winning suite of active noise management solutions that work to improve noise levels and to enhance and contour sound inside and outside the vehicle. Two main sources of unwanted noise in the car come from the engine and the road. Not only do these sounds interfere with the in-car audio experience; they also increase fatigue and stress when driving. HALOsonic Engine Order Cancellation (EOC) and Road Noise Cancellation (RNC) were developed to address these road noises before they reach the ears of vehicle occupants.
An automotive industry first, HARMAN’s Road Noise Cancellation technology minimizes unwanted low frequency broadband noise that is transmitted from road surfaces into the vehicle cabin through tires, suspension, and vehicle body components. Based on the principle of using "anti-noise" to counteract road noise, RNC detects and neutralizes unwanted road noise through the vehicle’s audio system, creating a more quiet and comfortable cabin, as well as opportunities to improve vehicle weight and handling without impacting interior noise levels.
Engine Order Cancellation uses active noise cancellation technology to reduce the drone and rumble of a car engine, using the engine RPM signal as a reference to generate a sound wave that is opposite in phase to the engine-emitted noise wave. Error microphones mounted in the cabin ceiling provide feedback on the amplitude and phase to refine noise-cancelling effects.
In addition to RNC and EOC, HALOsonic offers Electronic Sound Synthesis (ESS) which generates the authentic sounds of an engine, inside or outside the car. Electronic Sound Synthesis assists automakers engaging in emission reduction measures like engine downsizing and cylinder shutdowns, by synthesizing the attenuated engine sound and restoring the manufacturer’s intended engine note. For hybrids and electric cars, the technology ensures pedestrian safety and adherence to governmental regulations. Inside the vehicle, ESS provides high-performance auditory feedback for smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, generating the exhilarating sounds desired by customers for an enhanced drive experience and reinforcing OEM brand DNA.
Recently awarded a 2013 Innovation Award from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the 2014 Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers, HARMAN’s HALOsonic technologies are available now to OEMs, and can be implemented together or separately.
HALOsonic and Individual Sound Zones join HARMAN’s portfolio of leading automotive audio solutions including QuantumLogic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi music restoration software.
HARMAN (www.harman.com) designs, manufactures and markets premier audio, visual, infotainment and enterprise automation solutions for the automotive, consumer and professional markets. With leading brands including AKG®, Harman Kardon®, Infinity®, JBL®, Lexicon®, Mark Levinson ® and Revel®, the Company is admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues where they perform. More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with HARMAN audio and infotainment systems. HARMAN has a workforce of approximately 16,600 people across the Americas, Europe, and Asia and reported sales of $5.6 billion for the 12 months ended September 30, 2014. The Company’s shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol NYSE:HAR.