Continental Reinvents Automotive Audio Technology, Actuators Replace Speakers

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Continental Reinvents Automotive Audio Technology, Actuators Replace Speakers

Auburn Hills-based automotive internal technology company Continental has announced a reinvention of the car audio system. The company is replacing conventional loudspeakers with actuators that create sound by vibrating certain surfaces in the vehicle.

The sound waves are generated by compact actuators, which are similar to the core of a conventional speaker. The transducers consist of a magnet and a coil that generate micro-vibrations.

“In the age of electric vehicles, car manufacturers are looking for innovative solutions to drastically reduce the weight of their vehicles and gain space for passengers and new technologies. On the other hand, design and sound quality should not suffer from this goal,” says Johann Hiebl, head of Continental’s infotainment and connectivity business unit. “Our approach is to treat the car itself as an instrument. We use compact actuators to excite suitable surfaces to generate a natural, 3D sound experience.

“The challenge lies in the profound understanding of NVH in the widest sense, which is required to achieve excellent acoustics. Typically, experts have either the vehicle expertise or the acoustics expertise. Continental has both in-house, plus the manufacturing know-how.”

Compared to traditional speaker technology, an actuator audio system weighs less and doesn’t consume as much power. Continental’s new solution can also reduce the system volume by a factor of 10 or higher, while still bringing down the system’s weight. The invisible car audio technology can be integrated into any car model from high end sedans to small electric vehicles.

The technology also has the potential to provide a sound source for human-machine interaction concepts, including navigation instructions or an indicator sound. Continental will demonstrate its products at the upcoming International Motor Show in Frankfurt.

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