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Will Car Speakers Become a Thing of the Past?

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2018 Hyundai Sonata Limited Ultimate Speakers

Technology evolves at a rapid pace these days. With each model year, automakers often struggle to keep up with the newest tech features. By the time brands come up with a design, implement it into their lineup, and send it out into the mass market, it’s practically out of date.

When it comes to infotainment systems, though, there’s one part most of us never really saw leaving: the speakers. No matter what infotainment technology you have, whether it’s touchscreens, voice control, or your basic CD player, you have to have speakers to listen to your music in the car, right?

Wrong, apparently.

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According to The New York Times, speakers could soon become a thing of the past. Instead of speakers, technology makers are coming up with alternatives. The German company Continental, a supplier of automotive components, has been exploring the idea of a replacement for car speakers. They’ve titled the project Ac2ate Sound.

Ac2ate Sound plans to remove speakers from vehicles altogether, using the car’s existing interior to create and amplify the sound system. “The approach turns the rear window into a subwoofer,” reported The New York Times’ Brittany Greeson. “The windshield, floor, dashboard and seat frames produce the midrange. And the A-pillars – the posts between the windshield and the doors – become your tweeters.” This information was provided to Ms. Greeson by Dominik Haefele, a team leader at Continental.

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“The key components are transducers,” explained Greeson. “[Transducers are] small devices that use a magnet wrapped in a copper coil to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Run current through the wires, and the transducer vibrates.” Implementing this into vehicles would mean placing these transducers throughout the vehicle’s cabin. The technology is expected to immerse passengers in a 3-D sound experience. Since the audio is being reverberated by the vehicle itself, passengers feel completely immersed by the sound.

Haefele explained that the technology is similar to that of a violin, using vibrations: “When you draw the bow across the strings, they vibrate,” said Haefele. “The vibrations are transmitted through the bridge to the body of the violin, which is what makes the sound you hear.”

This technology isn’t too far off from hitting the mainstream market. Luxury brands are expected to pick up the technology as early as 2021, and if they do, it could be a matter of time before the rest of the brands follow suit.

News Source: The New York Times