Ahead of this year's all-digital, Harman unveiled a suite of concept technologies designed to reimagine what you can do inside your vehicle. The company, which is best known for its range of audio-system brands, including JBL and Infinity, Mark Levinson, Revel, AKG and others, revealed its vision of the future on Thursday.
Harman has developed three new "experience concepts," or EXPs for short. By meshing a range of technologies together, from telematics and cloud-based software to digital cockpits and more, the company is demonstrating how a vehicle can be transformed into a gaming console, a recording studio or even a concert hall.
But why would anyone want to host a podcast, or game while on the go? Well, for starters, according to Harman, more than 60% of consumers expect their vehicles to be more than just a way of getting from point A to point B, to get to the grocery store and back again. Aside from work and home, vehicles have always been a third living space, and Harman envisions a future where our cars are more enjoyable and engaging. For instance, while waiting to pick up the kids at school, you could play an online game with friends, right on your vehicle's large infotainment screen rather than the tiny one on your smartphone. You could also listen to your favorite band live in concert and react in real time as they play or even vote on the next song you want to hear, all from the comfort and safety of you car. With 5G connectivity and greater computing power in both the vehicle and the cloud, there are many new experiences that can be enabled.
Gaming Intense Max
Taking mobile gaming to the next level, this new automotive experience concept transforms a vehicle's cabin into one that delivers immersive gameplay. Aside from taking advantage of, say, high-resolution OLED and QLED displays, Gaming Intense Max pushes the seat back, darkens the windows and pumps up the sound for an at-home gaming experience while in the vehicle, safely parked, of course.
Gaming Intense Max supports up to three in-vehicle players as well as personal game data and subscriptions. Low-latency 5G connectivity should provide great performance and even allow you to live stream as you play. ClearChat technology reduces echo and background noise during gameplay for a top-quality experience.
The next in-vehicle experience concept Harman revealed is called Creator Studio. As consumers look to produce more content, or get more work done while on the go, this vision of the future transforms a vehicle's cabin into, you guessed it, a mobile recording studio, one that could help you post a cool new vlog or just look your best during weekly Zoom meetings.
For peak quality, the system automatically adjusts audio levels and helps reduce background noise. Ambient interior lighting adjusts to be as flattering as possible and the interior's multiple cameras are ready to record you from the best angles based on your movement and activity, which is pretty clever. And once you're done recording, you make minor edits on the steering-wheel screen and the in-car virtual assistant can help get your latest masterpiece ready for publishing.
Finally, Harman showcased something called Drive-Live Concert, a concept that transforms your vehicle into a live music venue, one that can provide many of the thrills and interactions of an in-person performance with none of the crowds or risk of contracting COVID-19.
The backbone of this is the company's extensive experience building premium sound systems. But beyond top-shelf audio quality, during shows, users can vote on the next song they want played or even interact with artists. With 5G connectivity, you can watch a high-quality livestream of the performance and pull up song lyrics, read musician bios or learn about the instruments being played. Providing users with a more immersive experience, the concept vehicle's steering wheel retracts to open up more interior space and the main display extends for better viewing. Ambient lighting synchronizes with the beat for a true concert experience even if Harman hasn't figured out how to synthesize a mosh pit just yet.
The future isn't here… yet
For now, Harman's new automotive experience concepts are just that, concepts. Until vehicles have big-screen displays, 5G modems and as many cameras as a television studio, none of this is likely to be available. But the good news is, the future may not be that far off. Everything shown here is based on commercially available products from both Harman and its partners. Exactly when you'll be able to play World of Warcraft while waiting in the Starbucks drive-through or watch Phil Collins perform live from the backseat remains to be seen, but it's nice to know that someday you might be able to do this.