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This article was published on January 10, 2019

Bose brings its noise-cancelling tech to cars

Unfortunately the vehicle won't actually be wearing headphones

Bose brings its noise-cancelling tech to cars
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Ever used a pair of Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones? Spoiler alert: they’re great at cancelling noise. So, while the idea of a consumer audio company neutering vehicle sound might sound… questionable at first, Bose actually has some pedigree in this space.

Announced at CES, Bose QuietComfort Road Noise Control (or RNC for short) focuses on reducing the vehicle noise inside its cabin. As opposed to conventional sound reduction approaches that use physical tricks – like thicker insulation or special tires – RNC cuts down on din electronically.

It works like this. First, accelerometers are mounted onto the vehicle. Then, these are used to continually measure the movements and vibrations that are creating noise. After that, the Bose RNC technology uses the vehicle‘s sound system to project an acoustic cancellation signal into the cabin, thus reducing overall noise.

To ensure this is done accurately, there are also microphones placed inside the vehicle. These monitor noise-levels and allow the RNC system to adapt the cancellation depending on conditions. Smart stuff, right?

This video does a bang-up job of breaking this technology down:

“It’s much more difficult to control noise in a large space like a car cabin compared to the relatively small area around your ears,” John Feng, manager, Bose Automotive, Active Sound Management Solutions, stated. He went onto say he believes that Bose has “achieved a level of road noise reduction that sets [it] apart” from competitors. No surprises there.

Bose is now ready to work with car manufacturers to implement RNC, even though it won’t be in production models until 2021. Another interesting element of the roll-out is that the technology will work in vehicles irregardless of whether they have a Bose sound system installed. I half expected the company to make this a Bose speaker only feature, so this wider compatibility is a nice surprise.

As great as all of this sounds, the proof will be in the pudding. It’s a terrific idea, but the physics behind cancelling noise in this way are incredibly complex. The only to tell for sure how good the RNC system is by trying it out.

I happily nominate myself for this task.

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