Harman Has The Solution To Your In-Car Communication Woes
I don’t know what "beamforcing" means, but it sounds fancyby Kirby Garlitos, on
Technology company Harman was on-hand at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show to showcase a new technology that could redefine the way in-car communication takes place. The new audio technology is called Premium Communications, and it includes three potentially game-changing features — In-Car Communication (ICC), ClearChat with Far-End Noise Cancellation, and Personal Communication Zones — that could create a more pleasurable environment inside our cars. There’s no word yet on whether Harman plans to put this new tech to market.
We’ve all been there. You’re talking to someone sitting in the rear seat of your car and you can’t hear each other because there’s too much noise surrounding you. Those moments are always frustrating, which is the primary reason why Harman brought its new audio technology to the Consumer Electronics Show.
The purpose of Harman’s Premium Communications tech is as clear as the in-car environment it wants to create.
In other to achieve that, the Samsung-owned company developed three important features of its Premium Communications technology, including the ability to talk to somebody in the back seat without having to take your eyes on the road. Sure, it’s easy enough to do that if you have a loud booming voice, but those people who aren’t able to speak barely above an audible tone will attest to having that kind of issue.
The In-Car Communication technology solves those ills, thanks to a combination of microphones, voice processing, and in-vehicle audio signal processing. Basically, this feature enhances the sounds that you want - or in some cases, need — to hear while reducing the sounds that you don’t want to hear. Harman says that the system works both ways, too.
Occupants in the second row or even the third row of your vehicle can directly engage in a clear and meaningful conversation with you without having to raise their voices or lean forward just to hear what you’re saying.
It’s admittedly hard to imagine how that works from a visual point of view, but imagine talking to someone in the back with an amplified voice even if you’re not doing it on purpose. This is an important feature, especially if you have your family with you. No longer will your kids be able to say that they didn’t hear you when all they’re actually doing is ignoring you. Justice!
ClearChat with Far-End Noise Cancellation
Harman’s Premium Communications Tech also comes with the ClearChat with Far-End Noise Cancellation feature that has the potential to be a godsend for those who talk on their phones while they’re in the car.
The ClearChat feature basically removes unwanted cabin noise, which manifests itself in a number of different ways, whether it’s through the A/C unit or petty quarreling from the rear-seat occupants.
If you’re on the phone and you can’t hear what the person you’re talking to is saying, the ClearChat feature comes in to save the day through the use of echo cancellation, noise reduction algorithms, and most importantly, beamforming microphones. I know what you’re thinking: what’s beamforming? As best as I can, I won’t be able to properly describe it better than Harman does. So, according to the company, beamforming is a signal processing technique that employs direct signals at particular angles to ensure spatial selectivity. Basically, the sonic clutter that’s created by the barrage of noise coming from all sections of the interior is dramatically reduced. In turn, voice clarity improves.
Personal Communication Zones
The last feature of Harman’s Premium Communications technology is my favorite. It’s called Personal Communication Zones, and it basically gives every occupant in a car their own personal voice assistant.
That’s a massive step up in technological capability considering that today’s cars only have one personal voice assistant for the driver.
With the help of this feature, every occupant in the car can make a phone call knowing that the person they’re talking to won’t be able to hear any background noise from your end. Your kids can watch Moana in the car with the volume set to 11 and you won’t have to worry about your conversation getting interrupted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s rendition of “You’re Welcome.”
Most people will only appreciate the tech once they start using it
Admittedly, audio technology is harder to sell through descriptions and words than visual technology. With the latter, you can actually see what the technology has to offer, allowing you to process it quicker and understand its benefits. Audio tech, on the other hand, needs to be experienced to understand its benefits.
Hopefully, Harman’s Premium Communications technology advances to the point that we can actually experience it.
Only then will we fully understand what the tech is all about. That’s especially true in today’s world where the regular use of voice-enabled devices have become a part of our everyday lives. Communication has never been as important as it is today, especially within the confines of a vehicle. That’s precisely why the evolution of in-vehicle communication has turned it into a very important part of the overall car experience. Harman has the technology in place to make that experience better for all of us. Let’s all hope that this new tech is more than just a “show-and-tell” experience.