Harman reveals in-vehicle audio innovations with high levels of personalisation

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 12 Jan 2021

Harman, the wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co, focused on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, has revealed its new Live Interactive Virtual Experience (L.I.V.E.) and Personal Audio Headrest platforms, two new proprietary connected audio innovations engineered to enable new levels of personalisation and interactivity.

Designed with applications for the car, at home and on the go, the L.I.V.E. and Personal Audio Headrest platforms fuse the energy and action of a live music performance with the advanced level of personalisation consumers demand from digital experiences. The immersive capabilities of both platforms were showcased via HARMAN Drive-Live Concert ExP, a conceptual in-car experience, which premiered at last week’s virtual HARMAN ExPLORE event.

According to Harman, a recent study from Nielsen Music and MRC Data found that half of all music fans think live stream performances or virtual concerts are necessary in the absence of live music events. That said, virtual concerts are currently limited to web-based experiences that may offer online video and chat boxes for basic levels of participation, while drive-in concerts impose considerable space constraints between fans and artists. Whether safety or technology-based, these limitations narrow the connection and engagement of traditional live performances and spoil the otherwise organic interaction between the artists and the fans. With the L.I.V.E. and Personal Audio Headrest platforms, Harman says it is broadening the boundaries of what’s possible with the concert experience – be it virtual, drive-in, or even a more traditional in-venue show.

“With traditional live events being put on pause, the demand for live music experiences is higher than ever. As a result, we’ve entered a new era of music enjoyment, with live concert-streaming and drive-in concerts taking center stage,” said Frank Moffa, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Car Audio.

Personal Audio Headrest Platform
With an innovative, modular headrest-based design, Harman’s new Personal Audio Headrest platform is designed to be automotive-friendly from the ground up. Developed in collaboration with leading automotive interior and seating system supplier Grammer, the Personal Audio Headrest platform delivers elevated levels of audio performance with safety, comfort, and seamless in-cabin integration for OEMs.

The Personal Audio Headrest platform powers the most advanced audio features on the market – from 3-D spatial audio experiences to individual sound zones, to the most detailed levels of acoustic personalization. The Personal Audio Headrest platform is available now to OEMs for integration into upcoming vehicles.

In the vehicle, headrest audio provides powerful acoustic benefits through two product tiers:

Personal Audio Headrest offers the ability to adjust the level of surround sound and 2-channel audio in accordance with personal preferences, giving vehicle occupants the opportunity to customise their individual audio experience and delivering the level of premium HARMAN audio consumers have come to expect.

Personal Audio Headrest Plus adds mechanized wings in the headrest, which deploy for the most immersive experience while driving and retract on-demand to resemble a traditional automotive headrest. This offers an even more premium audio experience, with higher performance and greater customization capabilities – including advanced features like sound zones and spatial audio. The movements of the wings occur safely, quietly and comfortably, without blocking critical sightlines or visibility.

Live Interactive Virtual Experience
Delivering the thrills and immersive experiences of a live concert, Harman’s Live Interactive Virtual Experience (L.I.V.E.) platform offers remote and socially distant concertgoers the ability to directly interact with the venue, the artist, and the music all from the comfort of their vehicles, homes, or wherever they happen to be – while also allowing artists to reciprocate with interactions of their own. With this unique, two-way flow, fans can use L.I.V.E. to do things like cheer, make song requests, vote for the next song played, or request that a specific instrument be featured in the next solo. In parallel, artists can receive and respond to fan interactions during their set, give shout-outs to fans, and play fan-requested songs to recreate that otherwise lost sense of engagement with the audience.

Leveraging high-quality live streaming, a consumer interface, a software control application and Harman professional lighting and sound capabilities, L.I.V.E. can be deployed into software applications for vehicles, mobile devices and personal computers. Central to L.I.V.E. is an interactive “fan space,” a hub that projects the energy, enthusiasm and applause from fans directly to the artist via in-venue screens and lighting elements. L.I.V.E. supports many new types of fan interactions, including cheer-based event triggers, in-venue light shows, artist merchandise purchases and fan giveaways, along with fan voting capability. This unlocks a powerful connection between fans and performers – fans can channel their excitement remotely and digitally, while artists can receive this energy to feed it back into their music.

L.I.V.E. also enables concertgoers to curate their own sight and sound experience from the performance. Fans can select from a variety of camera angles for a deeper up-close and personal feel – whether it’s zooming in on their favorite drum solo or focusing on the lead singer – while HARMAN technologies such as Virtual Venues and Personi-Fi provide users with the freedom to personalize the concert audio to their specific preferences. Further, 5G technology enables high-quality audio and video streaming along with automatic access to real-time bonus information, such as song lyrics, band member bios, details on the instruments being played onstage, similar music recommendations, and much more.


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