Innovation That Matters

Car audio system uses interior surfaces as speakers

Publishing & Media

A new car audio system saves weight and space by using the interior surfaces as speakers.

While some recent advances in automotive technology have focused on developing self-driving, or even flying vehicles, German-based Continental Corp, is focusing on improving the experience inside the vehicle. Continental is taking the car sound system into the future, with speaker-less audio that turns the inside of a car into a speaker. Inspired by the principle of string instruments, Continental has developed a system that replaces conventional loudspeakers with actuators that generate sound waves, which are then radiated and amplified by the surfaces in the vehicle. Continental claims that the sound produced in their speaker-less system is equal to that of high-end conventional audio systems.

While most conventional high-end audio systems need between 10 and 20 speakers to produce high-quality sound, Continental’s Ac2ated Sound system uses specific areas in the car to produce different frequency ranges normally provided by speakers: the A-pillars, which hold the windshield in place, are suited to high frequencies, the door panels generate medium frequencies, and large areas such as the roof lining or rear shelf generate low frequencies. While conventional audio systems can weigh up to 30 pounds, and take up to a cubic foot of space, the Ac2ated system weighs as little as two pounds, and takes up just 0.04 cubic feet. These savings are a great advantage especially in electric vehicles and sports cars, where both weight and space are at a premium. As the system does not require any speakers, there is nothing to interrupt the design of the interior surface, lending a smoother, more high-end appearance to any vehicle.

Continental plans to offer an entry-level, low-cost system, as well as mid-range and high-end system. At the high end, the front seats will be used to intensify the bass, and provide a separate sound experience for passengers in the rear. The company hopes in the future, the speaker-less technology can be used to provide a seamless “human-machine interaction”. For example, by allowing drivers to change the music or volume using verbal instructions, instead of twisting a dial, or even to give verbal instructions to their car’s automated controls. What other ways might a speaker-less sound audio system be used to improve the driving or riding experience?




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