CES 2020

Continental and Sennheiser create an immersive vehicle sound system without speakers

New technology shown at CES allows for automakers to say goodbye to speakers inside their vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Sennheiser

Premium audio systems have what, like 12, 15 speakers? More? Contentnail and Sennheiser teamed up to create a concept car at CES that immerses its occupants in a sound cocoon without using a single speaker.

What?! How does that work?! The technology merges Sennheiser's AMBEO 3D audio technology with Continental's Ac2ated Sound system. The Continental system eschews speakers and instead uses surfaces within a vehicle to produce sound. When this technology is combined with Sennheiser's AMBEO Mobility, the result is "a breathtaking 3D sound reproduction that envelops passengers in an incredibly detailed and vivid soundscape and lets them enjoy their in-car entertainment to the fullest," according to a release.

Continental Sennheiser CES 2020 sound system The new type of system would save nearly 100 pounds of weight.Photo courtesy of Sennheiser

The weight savings is significant for autos. The Ac2ated Sound system enables up to a 90-percent reduction compared to the average weight of a sound system. Vehicles with the top-tier trim levels generally weigh more than their mid-grade and base model counterparts, which causes them to be less fuel efficient.

"For Ac2ated Sound we have brought together the highest levels of expertise in the areas of acoustics, infotainment and vehicle design. In Sennheiser we have found an audio expert who helped us make our pioneering audio system even better," said Helmut Matschi, member of the Executive Board and Head of the business area Vehicle Networking and Information at Continental. "Together, we have developed an audio system that creates premium sound out of nowhere. Additionally, Ac2ated Sound reduces space and weight. At Continental, we call this sustainability that's music to your ears."

But, how does it sound? According to the companies, the result of the technology is a natural sound experience that, for the occupants, feels, "as if they are sitting in a concert hall surrounded by sound."

The technology, if implanted in passenger vehicles, would allow designers more leeway in designing an interior, saving 75-90 percent of the space of a traditional audio system. It also would make the vehicles more fuel efficient.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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A new Honda design concept is coming to the interior of their lineup.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

A fresh video from Honda shows off a new interior design that will translate into its upcoming 2022 Honda Civic and beyond. The design concept, called "Simplicity and Something" reflects the time honored tradition of human-centric design while modernizing and simplifying the look of the interior of Honda vehicles.

It's been created to optimize passenger space, which is reflected not just in the wheel design and electronics but also in the shape and size of the greenhouse provided.

In the new video, Johnathan Norman, Creative Lead for Honda Interior Design in the U.S., provides insight into the new philosophy behind the interior design direction.

Honda New Interior Design Direction www.youtube.com

"Simplicity in design requires not only a strong philosophy, but a discipline toward the user experience," said Norman. "We've heard from designers working for other brands who say they were inspired by the simple, human-centered design of old Hondas. Well, so are we!"

Nearly all of what is seen in the video is new for Honda. Long, thin elements blend the dashboard vents in with the rest of the sculptural element. The new Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Ariya, and Kia EV6 take a similar approach. A longer and skinnier infotainment screen is shown resting atop the dash with a simplified three-dial design demo it. Some physical buttons appear to still remain.

Below the center stack is a small item storage space in front of a new shifter design. Beside that are drive mode selectors and an auto hold button. There's another button too, which may be for traction control or hill descent control, but its graphics aren't clear in the image.

Panning from right to left, the start button appears to still be in its natural position on the dashboard behind the right side of the steering wheel. The steering wheel design is a complete redo with a fresh layout and newly styled buttons, some of which illuminate. Paddle shifters are present.

In front of the driver is a fully-digital instrument panel that is hooded like Nissan's rather than hanging out on its own like in the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

There appear to be a number of hard plastic and piano black surfaces as well as more dynamic materials making an appearance. It's likely that upgraded fabrics and materials would continue to be present in future high trim level models.

The 2022 Honda Civic makes its full debut later this week, complete with a complete look at the interior. Stay tuned.

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