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Picture this scenario: You’re in the passenger seat, your friend with a questionable taste of music is behind the wheel, and suddenly some pig guttural panic attack comes blasting from the sound system. What a lovely ride…heavy on the sarcasm. This is a frustration many passengers and backseat drivers have to deal with when not playing role of the DJ, but Kia Motors is working on a way to end this mayhem. With the current development of a new type of car audio system, each passenger in a single vehicle will be able to listen to their choice of audio, be it music, a podcast, or a hands-free telephone call.
Here’s the crazy thing about this new audio system by Kia Motors - it doesn’t need headphones to work. The automaker calls it “Separated Zone Technology”, and surprisingly, has been developing this tech for the last four years, having started the project in 2014. Said to be available in the next couple of years, we wonder if this new audio system will pop up in the Kia Telluride concept, having received the green light for production in early 2018. The Telluride is a hybrid SUV with lots of futuristic tech already going for it, such as a Light-Emitted Rejuvenation (LER) therapeutic system, smart sensors to capture vital health information in real-time, fingerprint-activated push-button start, and a touch-sensitive swipe command media-control band in the second-row.
Sounds like a great vehicle to put Separated Zone Technology in. Kia Motors states the new audio system, currently named the “Separated Sound System” or “Separate Sound Zone” (SSZ), works by isolating acoustic fields around the cabin of the vehicle in the same way noise-canceling headphones do. This sounds rather extreme, since noise-canceling headphones use a microphone to emit a sound wave to counteract ambient noise, so how would this work in the large cabin of a vehicle? The speakers around the car will utilize technology that can increase or reduce their audio level a part from the center console - in essence, each passenger has a speaker assigned to them that they may use as their own personal sound zone. This is achieved by using Bluetooth capable smartphones and connecting them to either the audio system or speaker; it’s not specified just yet.
“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customizable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System…I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.” - Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at Kia’s NVH Research Lab.
In the near future, passengers won’t need to only listen to the main audio playing on the stereo. They also won’t have to drown out ambient noise by turning up their volume to deafening noise levels that is not only unhealthy, but reduces social interaction between passengers, if you’re into that sort of thing. What do you think of this new SSZ technology? Let us know on NowCar social media.