German auto parts supplier Continental has developed a car stereo system that does away with conventional speakers and instead uses the existing components in a car’s cabin to deliver audio.
It’s an approach the company says will help automakers manage weight and interior space in vehicles taking on an increasing amount of safety equipment.
Continental says a conventional high-end audio system can take up 10 to 30 litres of the volume of a car’s interior and add 15 kg to the curb weight. But Conti’s new creation can weight as little as one kg and occupy a single litre of volume.
According to Continental’s Dmitri Patsouras, the company’s research showed various parts of a car’s cabin are suited to recreating different sound frequencies. The A-pillars are good spots for high-frequency tweeters, the doors suited to mid-range sounds, and the roof and rear parcel shelf lend themselves to low-frequency sounds, placements not so different from those used for conventional speaker placements now.
Continental says the idea for a speakerless sound system was inspired by string instruments, which use harmonic and non-harmonic resonance to amplify their sound without the need for external amplification.
While a stereo of any kind does need an amp, the Continental “invisible” stereo places devices called actuators against various surfaces of the car interior and effectively employing them as speakers to transit sound. According to the company, other benefits include a natural 3D sound experience and granting designers the freedom to draw up car interiors that don’t need to allow space for speaker grilles in door and dashboard surfaces.
Continental says its speakerless car stereo is ready to go into production and will make its public debut in September, at the Frankfurt motor show.