Harman is doing some incredible things with in-car audio systems these days, all with the autonomous car in mind, which in turn will lead to the car as the third space after office and home, and the inevitable need at that point for sound systems that are superior to anything you can experience at the moment. Kiss goodbye to speakers that merely play your favourite music and say hello to speakers that bring the office conference, or the movie, right into the car.
The latest offering from Harman is called Summit Next. In bog-standard, playing-music terms, it’s incredible, mirroring the car’s movements with the speakers. So if you turn right, more music flows from the right speakers, ditto left. And when you accelerate, the sound shifts perceptibly to the rear of the car, as if you’re leaving it in the distance. It sounds trite, but it works; you’ll just have to experience it for yourselves, as we did in a Mercedes S-class on their stand.
The system is also capable of mirroring the way people on your conference call are set up in their office. So if Bob is sitting to the left of the speaker and Jim to the right, Bob’s voice will come from the left speaker in the car, Jim form the right, and your voice in return will sound like it’s actually in their office. Again, you’ll have to take my word for how effective that is; it’s truly uncanny.
Harman describes it thus: “Advanced signal processing spatially renders the audio from in-car calls to match virtual locations in a futuristic conferencing experience, providing the sensation of being in a real meeting room.” True, dat.