No Headphones! Kia Lets You Listen to Music Without Disturbing Anyone

Cherryl Anne Cruz

Doing a long road trip ahead? What if you want to listen to Jazz, but your partner wants to listen to Rock, instead? Or what if your three kids want to belt out their acapela version of Frozen’s “Let It Go,” while all you want is to ride the trip in complete silence?

Don’t fret–in a couple of years, Kia will offer an audio technology that allows everyone inside the car to listen and do “their own thing” without bothering anyone.

Yes, it might sound strange. But somewhere along the lines of “weird science fiction” and high-tech audio lies Kia’s next-generation Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology.

Isolated acoustic fields

Using the same technology available in noise-cancelling headphones, the SSZ works by using speakers that create directional sound fields to block residual noise.

What each passenger has to do first is to connect to the SSZ via Bluetooth. This turns on the directional speakers, creating a vacuum where most sounds are muted. With this space, you can turn on the speakers located on the headrest pipe, and listen (even in full-blast) to what you want without bothering the person sitting next beside you.

Kang-duck Ih, one of Kia’s research fellows added: “I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.”

Not all sounds are blocked

Still, Kia’s audio technology isn’t designed to mute everything at all times. The SSZ is designed to affect what’s coming out of the sound system, so general conversation can still penetrate the different audio fields. Meanwhile, navigation instructions and safety alerts will only be heard in the driver’s “audio zone,” so their likelihood of hearing these notifications are assured.

Here’s a video of how it works:  


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