According to our State of Play 2016 report, over 80 percent of consumers use their smartphones to store and stream music to take advantage of the ease and variety offered by streaming services such as Spotify, TuneIn, and others.
This year—perhaps more so than recent years—is producing many innovations, inventions, and new trends in the automotive audio industry. We here at GROM Audio can hardly contain our excitement for the future. In this article, we have a look at the top five trends that stand out well beyond the trivial. These include speakerless car audio, CarPlay and Android Auto, Alexa brings AI to automobiles, dash cams, and the end of the MP3 audio format.
Speakerless Car Audio
As premium audio systems gain popularity in mainstream automobiles, the number of speakers in each installation continues to increase. But, the additional capacity and sound-quality improvements also tend to increase the weight of the vehicle and the amount of space necessary to accommodate the speakers.
Speakerless audio systems address both of these challenges—reducing weight and saving space by eliminating the bulk of conventional speakers. These new systems use small actuators that excite various interior components to create sound, such as the dashboard, ceiling, or doors. The actuators are similar to conventional speakers since they contain a magnet and a coil, but don’t contain any paper or composite membrane. Instead, the system uses the resonant properties of interior materials to generate the sounds. The A-pillars are ideal for reproducing mid-to-high frequency sound, and the ceiling has a large surface that is typically capable of producing low frequency sound. Also, a speakerless system can be enhanced for use in luxury cars.
Carplay and Android Auto
CarPlay and Android Auto are setting new standards for seamless automotive infotainment. In addition to superior phone, music, and messaging features, the map functionality is typically much better than most built-in navigation systems. The primary reason is that either the CarP
lay or Android application will find a point of interest by means of a cloud-based search—instead of a fixed onboard database. This translates into more accuracy and higher reliability. These integrations also provide a familiar pinch-to-zoom feature that can be found on iPhone or Android. Another advantage is that no separate data plan is necessary for the car. By reducing both complexity and integration costs, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto pose a serious challenge for proprietary OEM infotainment systems.
Alexa can bring artificial intelligence to Your Car
Ford and Volkswagen have made announcements that their newer cars will soon expose an interface for Amazon’s Alexa—for weather, navigation, and additional features. The automobile industry is moving toward significant enhancements in mobility. But the concept goes well beyond the ride in the car. With the AI skills that are built into the voice service, you can ask Alexa about the status of your car before leaving your home or workplace (Sufficient fuel? Tire pressure good?). Alex can also present your calendar, check for the latest traffic updates, and confirm your upcoming meeting.
Another great advantage of using a voice service in your car is that you can maintain continuity with your home intelligent assistant. All indications point to a future in which this mode of communication will be found in highly-autonomous cars.
Dash cams can help you with accident claims
Dash cams are catching on as a potential way to protect your car and help make a stronger insurance claim. These small video cameras range in price from about $50-200 and they mount to the dashboard or windshield of your car. A dash cam will continuously record events as they happens in front of your vehicle. Advanced models have the ability to capture interior audio and video, rear-facing video, provide a display on your rearview mirror, and stream content to the web.
Simple dash cams that you stick on the windshield are the most popular, but there is continuing growth in sales of products that integrate dash cameras into portable navigation units and rearview mirrors that can also serve as displays for rear cameras. Note that some states prohibit any device that attaches to the windshield. Be sure to check local laws before you commit to a purchase.
MP3 Format is Sunsetting
In one of the more surprising developments this year, the creators of the MP3 format are terminating licensing for certain MP3-related patents. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits—the author of the MP3 format—states that, “though there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular among consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H.” These codecs can all deliver more features and higher audio quality—at much lower bitrates—in comparison with mp3.
The impact of this news shouldn’t be alarming to anyone. According to our State of Play 2016 report, over 80 percent of consumers use their smartphones to store and stream music to take advantage of the ease and variety offered by streaming services such as Spotify, TuneIn, and others. None of these employs that MP3 audio format.
Learn more about the VLine Infotainment System
The GROM Audio VLine system is a smart computer that connects directly to the factory automobile touchscreen navigation/audio system. VLine enhances the factory touchscreen with navigation and GPS features, and extends the video interface capabilities to display the latest apps from Google Play. VLine also provides a number of additional key utilities that enhance driver safety and convenience. Visit the VLine product page website to learn more about our special offers on the VLine infotainment system. Also, have a look at the 3-minute VLine driving demo.
About GROM Audio
GROM is a Silicon Valley-based automotive electronics company with a focus on infotainment, connected car and audio integration solutions. We have a long history of developing, designing, and manufacturing aftermarket car audio interfaces to update obsolete stereo systems. With a passion for technology and drive for innovation, GROM Audio continues to bridge the outdated vehicle infotainment systems with the modern mobile technology.
More information about VLine, our latest connected dashboard system, is available at http://gromaudio.com/vline