Your Car As A Musical Instrument? Harmon Thinks So

Harmon Ultimate Sound Machine image

We spend so much time in our cars and most of it is in a passive state – aware of the road yet in an entertainment consumption mode that’s forced upon us. What would happen if you could get more creative with that time? Harmon (parent company to JBL, among other audio companies) thinks that’s possible with the launch of its Ultimate Sound Machine that will have you thinking differently about your next auto.

The Ultimate Sound Machine is actually built around an all-electric BMW i3s that has a wide array of extra interior digital, sensor and audio technology added. This includes the likes of gesture controller Leap Motion, MIDI controller Seaboard and Next Gen Light Pads, along with some custom Harmon hardware that allows the accelerator and steering wheel to be able to generate sounds once they’ve been touched.

And the fun isn’t relegated just to the driver either. Up to 3 people, including someone in the back, can join in the fun. That said, it’s the driver that gets the lion’s share of the cool stuff. The steering wheel, for example, allows you to tap on it to create drumming effects while built-in microphones capture the resulting audio. Meanwhile, there’s a Seaboard MIDI machine located on the passenger side dashboard. and the Leap Motion controller can produce audio from the driver’s gestures.

There’s more to it than that but you can watch the video below to get the idea.

All this came as an extension of the fact that all-electric cars are now mandated in the EU by the Regulation on the Sound Level of Motor Vehicles law that states that all EVs must be fitted with an acoustic vehicle alert system. Since you have to put synthesized audio in the car for that, it’s not that much of a leap to take it to the next level.


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