Sound House

[Image: Robert Fludd’s “Temple of Music,” via Public Domain Review].

The next generation of car audio might not require speakers at all, according to the New York Times, with interesting implications for architecture.

“Continental, a German auto-components supplier, has developed technology that makes parts of the car’s interior vibrate to create high-fidelity audio on a par with any premium sound system on the road now,” the newspaper reports. “The approach turns the rear window into a subwoofer. The windshield, floor, dashboard and seat frames produce the midrange. And the A-posts—the posts between the windshield and the doors—become your tweeters… The result is something like an enhanced version of surround sound.”

The architectural applications are pretty obvious—for example, transforming your home’s windows, pillars, floors, and even foundation walls into pieces of an inhabitable sonic ensemble. The results would be sound everywhere. “You can’t tell where it’s coming from,” a Continental engineer remarks.

Should the tech find a foothold in car design, its leap over into architecture will not be far behind: first up would no doubt be amusement parks, cinemas, and other venues where immersive sound without origin is a premium service, followed closely by luxury home construction and then, finally, the rest of us. The whole article, in fact, has descriptions of future car audio—noise-cancellation, cones of silence, and more—that should be of interest to architectural designers.

5 thoughts on “Sound House”

  1. Another nice comment from that same article:

    > Some cars already have transducers that create extra engine sounds inside the cabin, for drivers who just need to hear the roar of horsepower

    Maybe they can also add some squeaking tire sounds?

  2. I wonder if you could break a back windshield subwoofer with something buried in a song mix played over the radio.

  3. There might be some inspiration from the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – remember the moment where the Vogons announce the destruction of Earth by transforming objects into high-fidelity loudspeakers?

  4. This audio technology was, for those who do not know, already proposed in the opening scenes of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy”, used by the Vogons to publicly announce the demolition of the earth.

  5. Fiat actually made this discovery accidentally in the ’80s I believe, where they found you could connect the car radio directly to the car metal body frame to hear music decently. They did not patent nor further develop it. Continental must have picked up on this.

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