What does the future look like for in-car speaker technology?

Jon Lawson
This is a Digital Soul Gold Inlay door and speaker

People are willing to spend on connected car technology, as the graph of automotive speakers has scaled to an all new level over the past few years. Research by PwC revealed that customers are readily spending as much as 15% of a car’s list price on connected-car technology and could spend US$10,000 for the convenience of an infotainment system. Such data encourages automakers and suppliers to undertake significant efforts in developing in-car speakers and speaker technology, complimenting the expanding automotive audio systems business space. 

Globally, according to the latest Global Market Insights analysis, the automotive speaker market is poised to record an annual remuneration of US$7 billion by 2027. The aftermarket sales channel is a key growth area, projected to reach a CAGR of 7.5% over the next few years.

Amazon, the retail pioneer and one of the largest tech giants worldwide, had in 2020 claimed it would be expanding its market for smart speakers in the Asian economies via the launch of new products like Echo Dot, Echo Auto and Eufy Genie AK-T1241211 Smart Speakers. These products have been specifically designed for the in-car experience. They can enable a driver to make use of a voice assistant to communicate, in case help is needed with the entertainment systems or maps. 

Developers intend to fuel the changing technological landscape of in-car speakers further with the introduction of voice command and gesture recognition, offering a more valuable experience to the customer.

How can voice control foster a seamless driving experience?

Today, where everything is at our fingertips and digitised, voice control emerges to be a natural fit for vehicles as it delivers a hands-free mode of interaction. Right from answering the calls to turning up the music and navigation, voice commands can lift a major load off the driver’s mind without diverting attention away from the road, ensuring proper safety. This all can be made possible through smart speakers. 

Early this year Amazon unveiled its Alexa Custom Assistant service which lets automakers create intelligent assistants customised to their brand personality and consumer needs. In fact, Forbes has reported that Fiat Chrysler could be the first automaker to make use of Amazon’s service to build its own digital assistant for selected premium vehicles. Passenger cars can be assumed to be a leading application area for the technology. 

It was estimated that passenger cars held over 70% of the global auto speaker industry share during 2020, indicating the major potential in the segment.

Electric vehicles: an opportunity to craft innovative products

With nearly 4.2% of the global population preferring to opt for electric vehicles, the EV market is currently witnessing a decent uptick. The advancing EV space is also dramatically scaling and revamping the in-car audio systems, leading to enhanced automotive speakers. 

A fun fact associated with EVs and in-car speakers is BMW’s new feature. A report by the company has released claims that BMW’s ‘soon to be launched’ iX electric sports activity vehicle would now allow drivers to experience an interactive soundscape created by movie composer Hans Zimmer.

The sounds, which will respond to the passenger’s actions as well as the car’s performance and external conditions, will be played through 24 speakers inside the automobile. Importantly, some of the speakers would be embedded into the driver seat to deliver an even more immersive experience. 

With the long road journeys seeming quite boring and monotonous, the deployment of automotive speakers is set to reshape the overall vertical of the automotive industry in 2021 and beyond. Higher spending on luxury vehicles and a robust adoption of EVs in the Asia Pacific region could further reinforce the market for automobile audio systems.


• The author, Vinisha Joshi is a graduate engineer specialising in science and technology


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