Clarion Introduces Tactile Wave Audio, Leveraging Interior Components of the Vehicle to Deliver High Fidelity Sound

Speakers have been a standard installation in vehicles since the 1930s. However, since the first car audio speaker was installed, basic loudspeaker design has largely remained unchanged. Fast forward to 2016, Clarion announced a revolutionary approach to delivering audio in the car, the Full Digital Sound (FDS) system. By reinventing the traditional loudspeaker to support a fully digital audio signal, FDS was very energy efficient and compact, and produced “pure” sound by eliminating the need for digital to analog conversion, which degrades sound quality. FDS was a technological feat still utilized traditional sized speakers and subwoofers that take up space within in the cabin of a vehicle.

In search of a different way of delivering high fidelity sound, while still aiming for energy efficiency, reduced weight, compact size and affordability, Clarion is rethinking what a speaker should be for 2019 and beyond. Traditionally, when we think of car audio speakers, we think of round or oblong devices with a magnet on the back and a woofer cone on the front. But, what if any surface in a vehicle could be turned into a speaker? That’s exactly the premise of Clarion’s new Tactile Wave Audio (TWA) technology.

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Okay, so what is TWA? Tactile Wave Audio is an in-vehicle speaker system comprised of extremely compact surface-mounted transducers that make the surface they’re mounted to emit sound. While the idea of using transducers to turn vehicle interior components into audio-producing devices isn't new, TWA is the first system of its kind to combine surface transducers with an integrated tweeter. The transducer creates surface vibrations that project low and mid-range frequency audio, while the integrated tweeter fills in the high-frequency details, for a well-rounded listening experience.

Tactile Wave Audio has many features and advantages for auto manufacturers. The compact design affords car manufacturers greater flexibility in design of vehicle cabins, as the system is extremely compact and doesn't require large cutouts for mounting within doors, kick panels, dashboards, etc., and eliminates the need for bulky, heavy subwoofers and subwoofer enclosures. In addition, TWA’s compact size makes it easy to integrate into unique places, such as in headrests, headliners, and other places with limited space. Adding sound to these otherwise unused spaces adds depth to the overall audio experience within the vehicle, creating an incredibly immersive sound field. When installed in headrests or the headliner above the driver, TWA can also be utilized to send warning chimes and alerts to the driver only, without disrupting the listening experience of everybody else in the vehicle.

Perfect for hybrid and electric vehicles, and even boats, Tactile Wave Audio uses considerably less energy than traditional audio systems, in a much lighter and physically smaller package, without compromising sound quality and sound pressure capabilities.

Tactile Wave Audio is available to OEM carmakers today for integration and is currently being evaluated by several leading car manufacturers around the globe for deployment in future vehicle models.

Alyson Yarberry