Future Of Driving

How A New Car Design Could Make Stereo Speakers Obsolete

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There's nothing quite like cruising down the freeway, blasting your favorite tunes at top volume. But once your car starts to get older, the speakers start to fade. Worse yet, they might buzz against a loose panel in your door, causing a distinctly un-rocking rattle every time the bass comes in. But a new design from Continental actually uses those vibrating door panels to great effect, and could simultaneously make car speakers obsolete and cut down on the weight of our cars in the very near future.

Giving "Surround Sound" A Whole New Meaning

Here's the idea. Standard speakers use a coil of wire known as a voice coil, which is attached to a diaphragm made of paper, plastic, or fabric. When the voice coil is electrified, it creates a temporary magnetic field, which interacts with a permanent magnet. The voice coil is alternately repelled by and attracted to the permanent magnet, and drags the diaphragm along to create the vibrations that form the sound "SCHOOOOOLS OUT! FOR! EVER!" This innovative new design, called Ac2ated Sound, cuts out some of the magnetic middlemen. It actually uses the trim panels of the car as the diaphragm, slashing the weight of the speakers dramatically and literally surrounding drivers with the dulcet tones of Alice Cooper.

It might help to think of the car as if it were a violin. A violin can create a tremendous amount of sound by making the best use of its surface area. The vibrations caused by drawing the bow across the string reverberate through the bridge, then transfer to the thin, broad panels of wood that make up the actual body of the instrument. Similarly, these no-speaker speakers would convert the electrical signals from your radio into vibrations to reverberate through the thin, broad panels inside your car doors.

The Road Trip (Remixed)

Here's the thing, though. Speakers as we know them work just fine. Don't they? So why is it so important to reinvent them? The answer is that speakers are very heavy, and the more sound they make, the heavier they are. And if the future is electrical vehicles, then we're going to have to cut down on the weight of our cars to get as many miles as possible out of every charge. Thanks to Ac2ated Sound and similar innovations from Johnson Controls, future drivers will be able to cut back on fossil fuels and let the whole world know that the Willennium is only just getting started.

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