Meridian Develops "Vibrohaptic Audio" You Can Hear And Feel

Technology / 12 Comments

Vibrohaptic Audio technology will debut in an unnamed European luxury car in 2025.

Meridian Audio has developed a new audio technology for automotive seating and promises this advancement will "greatly enhance the in-car media experience" without any of the drawbacks that plagued earlier systems.

The software-focussed Vibrohaptic Audio builds on existing technologies and also uses psychoacoustic responses to create a unique experience that enhances the richness of the sound. The system processes signals from the audio amplifier to control the haptic drivers in the seats.

Haptic inputs are very subtle, and oftentimes, humans can barely feel them. To get the best out of this system, Meridian has studied the frequency ranges in which most people experience haptic responses and used that to figure out how audio and haptic can work together to create something we humans respond to.

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Meridian explains that unique signal processing technology chooses the most important elements of the audio signal and adapts them to the haptic inputs. This adapts to work with rock music or more relaxed tunes, such as those with lower frequencies.

"It isn't only about what you feel in the sensitive parts of your back," explains Dr. Laurence Hobden, leader of Meridian's Research and Applied Technologies team. "The tiny vibrations are transmitted through your body and received by the bones of your ears, so it is essential that we ensure that the haptic inputs are congruous with the auditory inputs. Our aim is to build an acoustic experience that is lifelike, authentic, and natural by managing all the inputs that we receive when listening."

Meridian Audio
Meridian Audio

Meridian says this technology can work with a variety of actuators and can be adapted to work with the majority of available DSP amplifiers. The company notes the Vibrohaptic Audio system will hit the market in 2025, first finding its way into a product from a European luxury marque. Meridian sound can be found in JLR vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery and various Jaguars.

We wouldn't be surprised if the next generation of all-electric Jaguars, scheduled to arrive in 2025, will receive this technology first. An unnamed Chinese luxury car (perhaps something from Zeekr) will receive the system shortly afterward.

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"While it's great to occasionally turn up the volume and have your seat pumping into your back like the bass from a giant speaker at a gig, that's not how we receive the haptics of sound during most of our listening," said Meridian's automotive business director, Paul Andrews. "Outside of rock concerts, haptic inputs to our bodies are so subtle we often don't even know they are there."

The company's business director remarked that Meridian conducted experiments with participants who weren't aware they were in a Vibrohaptic seat. "They generally don't notice any haptic inputs, but when we turn it off, they immediately notice a reduction in the quality of the audio experience." The addition of this system will improve the listening experience, regardless of whether you're watching a movie or playing your favorite tunes.

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