Continental Debuts Speakerless Audio System Concept – Forbes

Continental's Ac2ated Sound audio system concept uses hidden actuators to "excite" parts of a vehicle's interior to create sound.

Photo by Continental

Continental’s Ac2ated Sound audio system concept uses hidden actuators to “excite” parts of a vehicle’s interior to create stereo sound.

As premium audio systems have become common in mainstream cars, the number of speakers in vehicles has increased. But along with this improved sound comes added weight, and more space is needed to house the speakers.

Recently I got a chance to see and hear a new cutting-edge sound system by automotive supplier Continental called Ac2ated Sound that reduces weight and saves space by eliminating traditional speakers altogether. Instead the Continental concept audio system uses compact actuators to “excite” parts of the interior such as the dashboard, doors and ceiling to create sound.

The actuators are similar to conventional speakers in that they contain a magnet and a coil that pulse in relation to the frequencies they’re fed by an audio source such as radio. But instead of moving a membrane made of paper or some other material, the system uses the resonant property of interior materials to create the sound.

“The A pillars, the dashboard, the ceiling and the back covers of the seat produce the sound,” pointed out Jens Friedrich, an acoustic engineer with Continental Engineering Services, who demoed the system for me. “Every surface has its own acoustic behavior,” he added.

“If I knock here, for example,” Friedrich said while tapping the dashboard, “it produces a sound. If I knock here,” he said while rapping the A pillar, “it produces a different sound.”

The A pillars, Friedrich said, are ideal for reproducing mid to high frequencies. “The ceiling, since it’s a large surface, is capable of low frequencies,” he added. “We use the modal structure of the interior component and by combining these different frequency ranges we can achieve a very good sound experience.”

Friedrich said that the weight advantage of the speakerless audio system is a significant benefit for electric vehicles. “Electric vehicles are pretty heavy due to the battery,” he notes. “Automakers ask us to reduce weight on every other component, and with this technology we can provide a big weight savings.”

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