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Smart sound system will give every car passenger their own wireless audio stream


Does your spouse want to listen to the radio, while your oldest kid fancies the latest Beyoncé album, your youngest hankers after the Frozen soundtrack, and you just want to tune into the latest episode of the brilliant new Friday 13th podcast, “In Voorhees We Trust”? Such disagreements are the stuff that long car journey arguments are made made of.

Fortunately, they could soon come to an end, courtesy of a collaboration between Noveto and Spanish car maker SEAT. Their team-up means that each passenger in a car could soon get his or her own separate audio stream — and with no headphones required.

It sounds impossible, but it’s apparently achievable by using smart technology to beam sound directly from source to ear, courtesy of what is described as the world’s inaugural “dynamic focused sound” system.

“Applying this new technology will enable us to open a world of possibilities for privately owned vehicles, and especially for shared vehicles,” SEAT Digital Officer Fabian Simmer said in a statement. “Being able to share your car and maintain your privacy is certainly a challenge that seems increasingly achievable, with solutions like the one proposed by Noveto which we hope to feature in our vehicles.”

A press release describing the technology made clear its disruptive potential, although it’s sadly short on details about how the smart tech actually works. It’s not short on examples of potential use cases, however — and these range from the “everyone gets their own music” scenario we painted up top to allowing one person to make or receive incoming hands-free phone calls, as other passengers continue enjoying the in-car infotainment system.

Noveto is no stranger to redefining the audio landscape. At this year’s CES event, the company showcased its “My Virtual Headphones” tech, which provides users with a private stream of audio, courtesy of some smart head-tracking. The latest innovation follows in its footsteps, but adds the all-important multiple user functionality.

There’s no word on when Noveto and SEAT’s amazing, argument-resolving technology will arrive for car owners everywhere. With the promise of never again having to listen to Frozen’s “Let It Go” playing through our car speakers, though, we hope it’s very soon!

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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