Cars will soon become like another room in the house, with wireless streaming of high-definition audio direct from home to cockpit.
They will allow each passenger to enjoy whatever infotainment services they choose – music, video, phone calls or navigation – without disturbing anyone else in the car and without the need for headphones.
Harman, the market leader in in car branded audio and automotive infotainment services, announced at the Geneva show that both are close to being production ready for automotive use.
Last year the company announced HD wireless audio streaming for the home. At Geneva it is demonstrating how this can be extended into the car as part of its intelligent connectivity portfolio.
"It is a multi-room system, so we said 'let’s add the car as another room'," said Michael Mauser, the president of the company’s lifestyle division. Through an app which works with iOS or Android systems, the highest-resolution audio available – currently 96 kHz 24-bit, but soon to become 92 kHz – can be streamed straight into cars.
"The intererst of car-makers is very high," said Mauser. "It is becoming cheaper and cheaper to add memory, and bandwidth is growing, so this opens the door for us."
Within three years it will be possible to combine this with the company’s individual sound zones within the car. By careful placement of speakers and noise cancelling systems designed in from the start, each area of the car can be decluttered of unwanted sounds. The driver could listen to navigation instructions, for instance, without being distracted by the noise of phone conversations, music or video being used by other passengers, who would in turn be immune to whatever is being being spoken by the navigation system.
"It is personalisation per seat," said Mauser. "It is ready for series production, and by customising it for each individual car what we have now [a display system in a Lexus] will become even better."
Only this week Harman announced that it had acquired Redband, the Israeli-based provider of software management technology and over the air upgrading services. Along with the earlier acquisition of Symphony Teleca, an American cloud services and cyber security company, this will allow Harman to expand its cloud based data transfer and upgrades in an even more secure way.
This is particularly important with the increase in in car conectivity and the subsequent vulnerability to hackers who could then go on to attack vehicle safety and security systems. Connectivity security is a major concern for OEMs as they develop a greater range of autonomous driving systems for their next generation cars.