I’ve discovered a shining beacon of hope when it comes to future road trips with our editor Trevor Long. Being the dictator in the group it’s fair to say he has final say on our in-car soundtrack, John Farnham on-loop. Now I don’t mind a bit of Whispering Jack but listening to Mr One Last Time across Death Valley into Nevada can tip one over the edge.
But since 2014 Kia Motors Corporation has been working on a solution. It’s called Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology. This allows each passenger to listen to what they want, without headphones. The claim is life will still be the same inside the cabin when it comes to conversations, phone calls and even hearing vehicle alerts. However when it comes to audio content you could be in your own cocoon.
How can this be? SSZ creates and controls acoustic fields in the car, creating barriers of audio for each occupant. The speakers installed in the car use this science to cut out or ramp up audio levels of sound waves. This is a very similar type of technology already used in noise cancellation products, but you won’t need a set of headphones in sight.
“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customisable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System.” says Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at Kia’s NVH Research Lab.
“I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.”
SSZ is said to still be one to two years off but will allow all passengers to connect via Bluetooth independently. You could literally have the whole family listening to different content. SSZ is said to cancel out the threat of those embarrassing Bluetooth calls, where say the wife calls and gives you a spray about something. Or when a must take call comes through but you have a sleeping toddler in the rear. The system can isolate all this audio from the rest of the cabin.
Check out this video to see how it works and bring on the end of John Farnham plagued road trips.