We often us the words ‘revolutionary’ and ‘transformative’ to describe the 3d audio technology encapsulated in our Hooke Verse headphones. Hooke’s proprietary binaural 3d audio technology delivers an immersive experience that allows the user to experience their world in ways that were previously only dreamed of. But we’re not alone. There is another industry attempting the near impossible which will soon change the everyday experience of millions of people. We’re not talking about sending people to Mars, although it does have a lot to do with the man leading such an effort. We’re talking about the automotive industry. Many of you will say, ‘that’s insane, cars and binaural audio technology have nothing in common.” We at Hooke Audio aren’t so sure.
Last week I had the honor of speaking with Michael Alaimo, Executive Director of Clean Fuels Michigan who has been thinking a lot about the role audio plays in the automotive industry. CFM is a statewide non-profit organization of businesses and other industry stakeholders dedicated to growing a high-tech, clean transportation industry in Michigan. The birthplace of the automobile, Detroit is looking for new technology and testing protocol to help bring its life blood industry into the 21st century. I sat down with Michael to better understand why spatial 3D audio peaked his interest.
Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile
The automotive industry is a shadow of its’ former self. And that’s a good thing. No longer does cutting edge automotive technology refer to using aluminum in a truck bed, or creating more efficient catalytic converters to capture tailpipe emissions. In fact auto executives rarely talk about the vehicle in the traditional sense at all anymore in most circles. Instead, their attention focuses on advanced propulsions technologies, software development, and advanced sensor technology that will make vehicles smarter. One day even capable of driving themselves.
This evolution in mobility falls under many titles: autonomous or connected vehicle technology, mobility as a service, and/or clean mobility just to name a few. The automotive industry itself will admit it doesn’t know exactly where all these technologies are taking us, but the implications are gigantic. Early projections have shown that the next generation of mobility to be an over $10 trillion industry, and studies have shown that automated driving technology could reduce 90% of all auto accidents. What they do know is over the past few years an unprecedented convergence between silicon valley and rust belt manufacturing is taking place. Sensor technology hardware and software design utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning are being used to allow a vehicle to experience its’ surroundings and make decisions based on how it ‘sees’ its’ surrounding environment.
Enter binaural audio.
Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology essentially relies on a number of sensors to digitally map out the environment in front of them. A variety of radar, ultrasonic, image, and Lidar sensors are all a part of a typical AV platform. Lidar sensors use pulsing beams of light to determine data points on an object and ultimately determine how far away it is, how fast it is moving and even what the object ‘is’ (think a pedestrian vs. a person on a billboard). It’s considered by most to be cutting edge technology in enabling vehicles of the not-too-distant future to develop a basic understanding of their environment and travel from A-to-B without incident (without going into details, there are definitely still kinks being worked out on the ‘without incident’ part).
But their is one limitation with all of these technologies, they rely primarily on the ability to ‘see’ in order to effectively do their job. Granted that means different things for different sensor modes, but driving through a tunnel is just as much an obstacle for radar technology, as are factors like splattered bugs or mud for image or lidar systems that need quality light and lenses to function. These challenges are well documented and automakers have struggled to come up with an effective solution. Audio capture offers another way.
Google Actually Has A Wiper For Its LiDAR To Handle Bird Poo And Rain
A Car Should Listen Like You Do
By developing a sensor that captures audio with spatial recognition, a vehicle could arguably gain a better understanding of its surrounding environment. Machine learning and artificial technology could then be coupled with this sensor to improve data recognition and zero in on relevant sounds while blocking out the white noise. Although no product is under development that we are aware of, this is no pipe dream. An increasingly active discussion has begun to form around addressing vision related challenges for the suite of AV sensors currently being used. And with the 3D Audio market expected to grow at a remarkable CAGR of 16.4% During 2017 – 2025, the solution is not if but when. By providing this increasingly sophisticated platform with a new ‘sense’ you are not only providing its AI algorithms with more data, but different data that circumvents a lot of the issues in trying to get a machine to navigate in our visually dominated world. Who knows, this could be the breakthrough in what has been a chronic thorn in the side of AV evangelists could pose a safe and cost effective solution to getting automated vehicles on the road more quickly.
From One Ear To Another,
Founder & CEO, Hooke Audio
And For More Info On The Blossoming 3D Audio Market