Harman's ISZ sounds like a great idea
We've all been there - in the back of our parents' cars as kids, listening to crap music from years gone by, or travelling as a passenger in a motor with someone who has a love of really intense drum'n'bass played at the sort of volumes that would have Amnesty International crying torture.
Well, American in-car entertainment firm Harman has come up with a clever digital sound suppression system for vehicles that means Individual Sound Zones (ISZ) can be set up within a passenger compartment. That means that while Dad, driving, is taking an in-car call on his hands-free Bluetooth connection, Mum can still listen to classical music in the front seat, while the two kids in the back can either be enjoying their own tunes or watching a Blu-ray - and none of the sounds of any of these electronic items will interfere with each other.
ISZ uses a car's existing audio system speakers plus some headrest speakers equipped with micro-speaker technology, along with thin, flat Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers in the cabin roof. This maximises speaker directivity and minimises crosstalk (also labelled 'sonic clutter' by Harman) between the individual passenger zones. ISZ can digitally filter out noises (including music, voices and ambient sounds) from other areas of the car, although Harman is keen to point out it can't entirely eliminate other sound signals - so, parents in the front, there's no way you can set it up so you can't hear your children in the back whinging 'are we nearly there yet?' every five kilometres.
“With our science-based architecture and acoustic precision, we're pushing the barriers of sound and creating the ultimate personalised experience throughout the vehicle cabin,” said Michael Mauser, president of Harman's Lifestyle Division. Excellent; this means at least you can now get a lift to work with that weird bloke from accounts who loves Celine Dion, without having to cut off your own ears during the journey.