Harman is working to appeal to a wide range of drivers with its suite of in-car technologies on display at CES 2016. In addition to high-tech smart car technologies, it's debuted the Voyager Drive, a simple plug-and-play Bluetooth audio solution that it imagines finding use in basic, affordable cars. The system is built around a compact speaker that docks in the dashboard and removes for use outside the car.
Many a modern music lover has a glut of speakers in his or her life – from traditional wired home audio speakers, to Wi-Fi all-in-one speakers, to car speakers, to portable Bluetooth speakers of various shapes and sizes, to mobile device speakers and beyond. Harman's Voyager Drive concept could eliminate at least part of the excess. Presented under Harman's Infinity brand, the pop-n-play audio solution works in the home and outdoors at the beach or campground, as well as on the way to and from those destinations.
The heart of the Voyager Drive system is the Go speaker, a compact, disc-shaped unit that docks in the dashboard to complement the six built-in dash speakers in playing music from a Bluetooth-connected mobile device. The in-dash dock also charges the Go's battery, so when you put the car into park, you can pop the Go out and play music on the move.
Those looking for more bass can upgrade with the Voyager Drive+, a removable subwoofer that mounts in the trunk. Like the Go, the multi-driver Drive+ can be used both in and out of the car, and its integrated dock lets you attach the Go for even fuller portable sound, while built-in handles make it easy to carry around.
In addition to the usual trademark-laced audio gimmickry that speaker manufacturers can't help but use – like "Dirac Panorama sound stage technology" – the Voyager Drive system provides a few hard features, including built-in microphones for hands-free calling and the ability to sync music with home or car lighting for an elevated atmosphere.
Often, new in-car audio technologies are aimed at the upper end of the market, but the Voyager Drive is positioned as a scalable solution for entry-level vehicles. Harman imagines it finding an audience with always-connected, music-loving millennials.
"Leapfrogging the constraints of traditional door speaker and head unit architectures, Voyager Drive gives OEMs the ability to offer cost-effective and low-complexity branded audio solutions for this fast-growing [entry-level] segment as well as for emerging markets, making lifestyle audio available to customers that previously have not had access," Harman explains in its press release.
A portable Bluetooth speaker may not be a make-or-break feature for a new car, but it certainly could enhance the appeal of a small, fun car aimed at younger, tech-obsessed drivers.