Harman is probably best known for its high-end audio systems, which are found in diverse places from recording studios and theaters to luxury automobiles.
Brands including Revel, Mark Levinson, JBL and others are all part of its wide-ranging portfolio, but this tech company offers so much more than just speakers and hardware.
Showcasing its vision of the future, Harman unveiled several new technologies at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, which is in full swing once again, with press from around the world descending on Las Vegas, Nevada to cover it.
Two of the company’s latest offerings are audio focused but a third could prove to be much more impactful, providing a host of next-generation features for the cars of tomorrow.
Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution
One of the most innovative things this company revealed at CES is an advanced suite of autonomous-vehicle technologies. LIVS, shorthand for Life-Enhancing Intelligent Vehicle Solution, is designed to make future cars safer and more user friendly.
The platform for this Harman-developed system is the Rinspeed Oasis concept, which also debuted in Las Vegas. A futuristic self-driving electric runabout, it seats two and features massive windows, a wooden floor and even a small garden planter at the base of its windshield.
But on-the-go veggies is not this car’s most important offering. LIVS provides a host of advanced features including a heads-up display that splashes across the entire windshield. This can prompt drivers with important navigation commands or warn them of upcoming road hazards. Of course, it can also display entertainment-related things and other information.
Beyond this, there’s also something called Autonomous Drive Readiness Check, which manages the handoff from self-piloting to manual control. This provides haptic feedback, eye-gaze tracking and cognitive-load measurement, things that can help determine if a driver is ready to take control. However, when it’s time to kick back and relax, the Oasis’ steering wheel folds flat when not needed, providing a small work surface with a keyboard.
LIVS also supports voice and gesture controls, and even features the Microsoft Office suite so you can work while traveling. Skype is included in this, as is the software giant’s versatile Cortana digital assistant.
Using both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, the Oasis also benefits from predictive collision prevention, which should minimize the risk of crashing.
Harman Summit Next Smart Audio Platform
Another headline item Harman has unveiled at this year’s CES is the second generation of its Summit Next audio platform. Aimed squarely at the luxury market, this technology is designed to provide the highest-quality multi-sensory experience courtesy of several ground-breaking features.
With unmatched sound quality, Summit Next can handle more than 60 individual channels for both amplification and equalization. Beyond this, it also includes a raft of advanced technologies like QuantumLogic surround sound, Clari-Fi music restoration technology and HALOsonic noise management to name a few.
In addition to these nifty features, Summit Next offers something called Ambisonics Escape, which can recreate different environments through a vehicle’s sound system. For instance, if you’re stressfully crawling along in rush-hour congestion this system can virtually transport you to a relaxing beach, a serene forest or even the foot of a waterfall through an immersive acoustics experience. Cutting-edge audio processing and a 360-degree sound field enable this.
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Similarly, Dynamic Sound Stage matches the road to your vehicle’s sound system like never before. It alters the listening experience as you turn the wheel, accelerate, decelerate and even enter tunnels. This is designed to make your drive more dynamic and engaging.
In addition to all of this, Summit Next also supports video, with the aim of providing a class-leading viewing experience for passengers. QuantumLogic Immersion supposedly brings a movie-theater-like audio-visual experience to the automotive space.
Autonomous cars are on the way and Harman is shooting to help automakers differentiate their upcoming products through premium audio experiences. Summit Next should provide this in a scalable and largely future-proof package that supports easy over-the-air updates and even smartphone companion apps for an even more immersive experience.
Another advanced technology Harman revealed at CES is their Voyager Next system. Unlike Summit Next, this is an affordable, low-complexity way of bringing connected-car features and premium sound to entry-level vehicles.
Harman is showcasing this in an all-in-one head unit that’s designed largely for millennials, the kind of drivers that often own compact and subcompact cars. This setup is essentially a turn-key solution, with speakers and subwoofers built right into the assembly.
It also supports a generous display screen and customizable in-vehicle lighting. Making it even more versatile – and appealing to today’s always-connected drivers – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Baidu CarLife and other smartphone-integration technologies are supported.
CES is in full swing and Harman is ensuring there are plenty of things for automotive enthusiasts to get excited about. These technologies are but a handful of what the company is showcasing in Las Vegas this week.
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