Innovative tech company Continental is reinventing the car audio system by replacing conventional loudspeakers with actuators that create sound by resonating the surfaces within a vehicle. The actuators will help reduce vehicle weight, lower electrical consumption while still delivering excellent acoustics.
“In the age of electric vehicles, car manufacturers are looking for innovative solutions to drastically reduce the weight of their vehicles and gain space for passengers and new technologies,” said Johann Hiebl, head of the Continental business unit Infotainment and Connectivity. “Our approach is to treat the car itself as an instrument. We use compact actuators to excite suitable surfaces to thus generate a natural, 3D sound experience.”
“Our approach is to treat the car itself as an instrument. We use compact actuators to excite suitable surfaces to thus generate a natural, 3D sound experience.”
The actuators consist of a magnet and coil which generate sound through micro vibrations. Specific areas in a vehicle naturally lend themselves to each of the required three main frequency ranges. To greatly simplify the technology, it’s similar to how violin strings resonate sound, only replacing the strings with a car’s cabin.
“The A pillar is suited for high frequencies, while the door panels, for instance, have the right properties for generating medium frequencies. Similar to speaker technology, we use large components such as the roof lining or rear shelf to generate low frequencies,” said Dimitrios Patsouras, director competence centre NVH at Continental Engineering Services.
In a demonstration vehicle, Continental presented the scalability of the sound system by switching between an entry low-cost system using three audio channels, a mid system using four to six channels and a premium solution using up to 12 channels. Thereby, even the front seats are used as sound bodies to intensify the bass experience and to provide the rear seat passengers with a new audio experience.
The invisible car audio technology can be integrated into almost any car model from high-end sedans to small electric vehicles. The tech has potential beyond sound systems as it can also be utilised for phone calls and navigation. “We see great potential for the speakerless system as a part of functional audio concepts”, Patsouras concluded.
“We see great potential for the speakerless system as a part of functional audio concepts,” Patsouras concluded.
Continental demonstrated the technology for the public last week during the IIA International Motor Show in Frankfurt.