It's thanks to a new system being developed by auto supplier Continental AG called Ac2ated Sound. It's based on the principles of stringed instruments and depends on a small device called a transducer, consisting of a magnet wrapped in a copper coil, which generates micro-vibrations from electrical energy. But instead of an oscillating membrane in a conventional speaker, the new system uses larger and existing interior components to radiate the sound and create high-fidelity audio.
So your rear window will serve as the subwoofer, with the windshield, floor, dash and seat frames contributing the midrange and the A-pillars doing double duty as tweeters. It's similar to how the violin makes sound via the wooden bodies, which capture vibrations from the bow being applied to the strings.
"It's a 3D immersive sound, and you're experiencing the music in a very different way," Dominik Haefele, the Continental team lead on the project, told the Times. "You're in the sound. You feel it all around you, like you're adding another dimension to it."
The system promises lower weight, far less box volume and lower electricity consumption. It says it can integrate the technology into any car model. Continental says current high-end audio systems depend on 10 to 20 or more speakers that add up to 20 pounds and occupy as much as 30 liters of volume. The new system, it says, weighs just 2 pounds and takes up 1 liter of additional space.
Continental expects its system to start appearing in cars by 2021, though the company wouldn't say in which company's vehicles.
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