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Different radio channel for each passenger? Introducing the Separated Sound Zone

2019-09-06

You can listen to relaxing classical music in the driver's seat, without bothering your kid listening to hip hop in the front passenger seat. The Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) prevents the overlap of sound waves being heard in each seat without needing headphones.

Tuning into your favorite radio show or station, maybe putting on a playlist of your best-of tracks, is a common way to pass time on wheels. Commuting to work, the morning news brief or the weather forecast is an obvious choice. On a leisurely drive or maybe even a road trip, something more upbeat might help get the spirits high. When the driver is also the sole passenger in the car, what plays over the speakers in however fashion is not a problem. It can be, if there are others in the car. People are bound to have different tastes in music, even within genres. Radio channels, programs, and news may pose an entirely different conflict of opinions. Perhaps if there are younger passengers, a more youth-friendly choice of music or stories might be appropriate, even if it means the grown-ups will quietly suffer through all-too-familiar tunes and stories. Worse yet, a young passenger might be at nap, and all must be muted. 

In most scenarios where there is a passenger, a compromise or concession is made concerning what is heard over the speakers. In most cases, the driver decides. So, what about fellow passengers? Of course, there is the option of putting on headphones to listen to something from a mobile device, but even without a rule book this does seem a discourteous-move, particularly if the passenger is sitting shotgun. 

The Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) control system provides a solution to such a situation. It provides a discrete means of enjoying one’s own tastes in a multi-passenger situation, without putting up an invisible wall. How is this possible? 

The SSZ Control System is a suite of technologies that create and control separate sound spaces in individual seat positions. The system utilizes technologies that optimize speaker placements in the cabin, soundwave reflection minimization algorithm, output control systems, and so on in the body of the vehicle, creating independent sound zones that do not interfere with one another. 

Vehicles featuring the SSZ control systems in fact allow different audio content to be heard in separate seats. So, the driver can listen to classical music, while the rear-seat passenger can listen to hip-hop music. Of course, it doesn’t have to be music. The driver may also tune in on a radio station, while the passenger continues to groove to some favorite tunes. As each seating position has its own sound zone free of acoustic interference from other positions, it is in effect also soundproofed. 

Another neat advantage that the SSZ control system delivers, is that certain sounds unnecessary for the passengers can be filtered. For example, GPS navigation audio directions and other useful audio cues for the driver may sound unnecessary, or even irritating to passengers. The SSZ control system can direct all such auditory cues and information solely to the driver and maintain a quiet environment for the other passengers. In essence, each seat will be an independent audio space. 

Developed by Hyundai Motor Company, Separated Sound Zone control system production testing is complete, and ready to enter the market (world first for automotive OEM). It will not be long before it is deployed in vehicles on the production line and introduced to the market. 

The SSZ control system allows acoustic compartmentalization within the cabin space, allowing passengers freedom to (not) hear what they (don’t) want to hear. This technology is expected to become increasingly useful audio feature in the future of autonomous vehicles. This is only the start of what the SSZ control system has to offer, and we look forward to discovering new enrichments to the cabin.