Design Excellence Award

Personal Spatial Audio in Cars

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Design Excellence Award, Group Design Project
The design of a loudspeaker array, capable of producing separate personal spatial audio streams for the driver and front passenger in a vehicle
Group Members
S Dennison, C House, D Morgan, N Rushton, G White

Professor Stephen Elliott, Dr. Jordan Cheer

In recent years, in-car audio improvements have been significant. Many systems now allow for multiple sound zones in the car, such as having separate songs playing in the front and back, or having a speakerphone which only the driver can hear.

By using the latest technologies in audio signal processing, it is now possible to create a fully immersive virtual sound ‘bubble’ around a listener, known as spatial audio. This allows the listener to hear sounds coming from all around them: above them, below them and even behind them! There are many reproduction systems that can replicate spatial audio in a living room environment, and last year the ISVR developed a system which can reproduce it in a car.

This year’s project involves combining personal audio sound zones and spatial audio, to allow both the driver and the front passenger of the vehicle to experience separate spatial audio streams simultaneously. This could allow for a passenger to watch a film in virtual surround sound without distracting the driver, whilst the driver receives collision warnings, parking sensors, or sat-nav commands localised to the direction of the hazard.

To produce this demonstration, the team has made use of the ISVR’s anechoic chambers to perform acoustic measurements, and the Faculty of Engineering’s Manufacturing Centre to 3D print prototypes and to CNC mill the loudspeaker body. Mathematical and finite element models have been used to predict and optimise performance, with 3D modelling used to generate the array design, create drawings and visualise renders of the array.

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