Hyundai prepares its Separated Sound Zone tech for mass production

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Let the kids listen to their awful pop music while you enjoy your heavy metal collection

Hyundai Motor Company revealed its next-generation Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology that allows each passenger of a vehicle to experience an audio stream tailored to their individual needs

We already became immersed in our own smartphones while traveling (hopefully, not the driver), so Hyundai thought it would be nicer if people would also be completely insulated from each other via a high-tech sound system, too. Joking aside, the SSZ system looks like the tech we'll need in a world of autonomous cars, most likely.

Through the SSZ tech, each passenger will listen only to the audio stream of his or her choosing, including, says Hyundai, music, hands-free phone calls, and vehicle alerts, while maintaining a headphone-free social space where passengers can converse freely.

SSZ technology creates and controls the acoustic fields of the car, allowing the driver and each passenger to hear isolated sounds, reducing or increasing audio levels of sound waves through the plethora of speakers installed in the vehicle. This prevents overlapping sounds from being heard in each seat, having the same effect as current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.

Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customizable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System. I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.

Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at Hyundai’s NVH Research Lab

Passengers could get rid of headphones and still be able to chat with other passengers, while each hears the music/audio stream he or she chooses. So, no social barriers here (we'd hope Hyundai also invents a noise canceling system for the annoying backseat children passengers, but hey).

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When traveling in a vehicle equipped with the next-generation SSZ technology, each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without interference from, or interferering with other passenger’s audio streams.

When the SSZ is utilized, hands-free phone calls can also be isolated to individual passengers, ensuring privacy when having important phone conversations on the move. Furthermore, this new tech can eliminate unnecessary sounds for the passenger, but provide them for the driver. Navigation sounds, or various alerts allow the driver to focus on controlling the vehicle, while the SSZ system isolates these sounds, maintaining a quiet area for the other passengers. This has a particularly strong application for drivers with a sleeping child in the vehicle.

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SSZ technology has been in development since 2014, and the completed mass production system is expected to be ready for installation in vehicles within by 2020.

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