Johnson Controls optimizes acoustics in vehicle interiors / Design freedom thanks to new flat speaker technology

Burscheid, Germany (ots) - In the future, audio speakers will no longer have to be integrated into car doors. This is made possible by the new flat speaker technology from Johnson Controls, one of the world's leading suppliers of automotive interior systems. Audio-specialists at Johnson Controls and Philips Sound Solutions have developed various integration solutions based on a patent from the company NXT. This new system eliminates the need for traditional car audio speakers. It offers automakers greater freedom in the design of future interiors and at the same time saves on weight. Consumers benefit from better acoustics and additional in-car storage space. Johnson Controls will present the new flat speakers for the first time from 9-21 September at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt.

New technology enables invisible integration

The flat speakers are integrated into the interior at various positions, invisible to the car's occupants. Using a special technique, Johnson Controls can install these tiny flat speakers into the substrate materials of the doors, for example. The substrate materials themselves are used as a membrane which transports sound into the car interior - making conventional audio speakers superfluous. This saves weight, opens up additional storage options and substantially improves the overall acoustics in the car interior. With the flat speaker technology, there is no longer any need for openings in the car doors, meaning that less exterior noise penetrates into the car interior, thus further optimizing acoustic performance in the interior.

Lower weight and greater design flexibility

With the new flat speaker technology, greater design flexibility is provided since conventional audio speakers are no longer necessary. "In the future, the space normally taken up by speakers in the door area can be used, for example, as storage space for compact disks, trash bins, first-aid kits, or for the integration of electronic products. Furthermore, we save one to two kilos of weight", explained Olimpia Migliore, Product Manager Acoustics & Audio at Johnson Controls. The sound engineers at Johnson Controls and Philips Sound Solutions tested various substrate and surface materials and a variety of installation positions. They concluded that the flat speaker technology could be used with almost all common materials with no loss of audio quality. However, to ensure that the flat speaker technology is integrated optimally into the interior, Johnson Controls must be included early in the development process of a new vehicle model. The package advantage of the small sound transducers makes it possible to integrate them not only into doors but also into unconventional zones in the vehicle interior, such as the overhead, instrument panel or pillar trim. This can enhance the perception of "surrounding sound" in the interior.

Three-quarters of all test subjects favor flat speakers

The results of a recent consumer research study carried out by Johnson Controls indicated a very high level of acceptance of the new technology: seventy-five percent of the respondents said they would purchase the flat speaker system. They particularly praised the extremely good audio quality and the new design options made possible by flat speakers. Some also said that since speaker covers are no longer needed with the new system, surfaces would be easier to keep clean. And as potential thieves would no longer be able to assess the value of the car's stereo system with a quick glance through the window, the new technology would also provide protection against theft.

Comparing acoustics at the IAA

Visitors to the IAA will be able to directly compare the sound of the flat speaker system with that of conventional audio speakers at Booth B16 in Hall 5.1. Johnson Controls will be presenting a lower medium segment vehicle model that is equipped with both technologies. Guests can switch from one sound system to the other and hear for themselves the kind of high-quality sound generated by the flat speakers.

The new technology will be available for series production in model year 2007.

Johnson Controls, Inc. is a global market leader in automotive systems and facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a leading supplier of seating and interior systems and batteries. For non-residential facilities, Johnson Controls provides building control components and systems and facility management services. Johnson Controls (New York Stock Exchange: JCI), founded in 1885, has its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The European headquarters is in Burscheid, Germany. Its sales for 2002 totaled 20.1 billion US-Dollars, the Automotive Systems Group alone accounting for 15 billion US-Dollars of this figure. In the current "Industry Week" business magazine rankings, Johnson Controls has been listed as one of the top 100 best run companies in the world for the fifth time in succession.