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For years, HARMAN held its CES events at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. This year’s event, ExPLORE, was virtual and hosted by globe-trekking flying ace and media personality Kellee Edwards against a swirling HARMAN virtual background. The company is building on its concept of ‘experiences per mile’ in vehicles.

First on the scene was HARMAN’s new automotive leader, Christian Sobottka.

“We’re a company that turns technologies into experiences. We’re transforming the car into a ‘third space’ that delivers the experiences consumers demand,” says Sobottka, President, Automotive Division at HARMAN.

“We want to make time in the car, time well-spent,” adds Sobottka.

He introduced the HARMAN experience concepts – or ExPs which he calls “our code name for highly-integrated automotive experience concepts.”

The new concepts are designed to help consumers have more ‘Experiences Per Mile’ (EPM). They are all are part of the HARMAN ExP Technology Suite.

Basically, HARMAN takes much of the technology already in the vehicle such as the digital cockpit, telematics, car audio, Cloud-based Software Services and ADAS then adds enhancements for super consumer adventures. They are based on HARMAN’s Compute Platform, HARMAN Ignite Service Delivery Platform (SDP), HARMAN OTA, HARMAN Ignite Store and their OLED, QLED and LCD displays.

“HARMAN is about elevating experiences wherever you are. HARMAN has been creating ‘Experience Per Mile’ or EPM for a while. We reached out across industries to form an EPM advisory council of over thirty companies contributing to the advancement of EPMs,” says Ralph Santana, Chief Marketing Officer.

“Most consumers just want to know about what they can experience in the car and how they can be more productive, entertained and more relaxed,” adds Santana.

In the past year, HARMAN took a deep dive into consumer insights. They discovered many unmet needs and pain points. Insights showed the opportunity to create experiences that don’t exist today in vehicles. Consumers want their cars to be more like a third living space, reports Santana.

“Some people take calls from the car. Some people work from the car. Others just want silent time,” notes Santana.

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Creating Moments of Magic

HARMAN learned that many people spend a lot of downtime in the car. They sit and wait in their cars – waiting on friends, waiting on the next appointment and waiting to pick up the kids at school.

“How do most people spend their time waiting?” asked Edwards.

She says they are playing games on their phones. Gaming isn’t the most fun thing you can do with your phone because the screen is too small, there is no controller and it does not compare with the experience of playing games at home.

“That’s why HARMAN created Gaming Intense Max. Now when your car isn’t taking you to places in the real world, you can use it to travel to faraway galaxies. Have adventures you only dreamed of all while connected online sharing the experience with friends and family,” says Edwards.

When the vehicle is in gaming mode the steering retracts for extra room for the controller. Gaming Intense Max features a screen that rises out of the dash, speakers in the headrests that cup the ears and haptic sensations in the seats.

The games are stored in the cloud. Ambient lighting adjusts to match the action in the game. It’s all enhanced with ClearChat sound cancellation to reduce background noise. There is an extendible screen in the back seat for gaming for passengers.

“No other automotive supplier can create moments of magic in the car like HARMAN for everyone in the vehicle,” says Lynn Longo, Senior Vice President Connected Car, Digital CockPit features. who says that HARMAN is leading the EPM movement.

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Imagine creating, expressing, and sharing your creative spirit right from the driver’s seat.

Longo says that HARMAN hardware behind the gaming includes a hardware-agnostic scalable compute platform that supports multiple displays, cameras, sensors, ADAS and cloud services. With exquisite graphics shown on QLED and OLED displays. Connectivity is enabled through HARMAN’s 5G TCU and integrated HARMAN audio tech.

Edwards talked about how people are creative in their cars, write songs but have no way to remember their creative endeavours and the creative spark is gone.

“What if your car could transform into a real-time recording studio? Imagine creating, expressing, and sharing your creative spirit right from the driver’s seat,” Edwards evoked before revealing the next innovation.

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In-car Concerts

HARMAN ExP Creator Studio allows drivers to have a full sound and video studio in the vehicle with the perfect lighting, sound enhancements and video caught from the most flattering angles from the driver monitoring cameras. Plus a virtual assistant helps prep the video with a title and cover image. The content can be edited by controls on the steering wheel.

The live concert post-pandemic can be a risky business. In-car concerts are taken to the next level allowing a super audio in-car experience and fan communication with the performing artists with HARMAN’s Drive-Live Concert and the Live Interactive Virtual Experience (L.I.V.E.)

While in concert-mode, headrests automatically move forward surrounding the ears. In-vehicle lighting synchronizes with the music the rear display and exterior speakers rise to the occasion.

Fans can communicate with the performers who can see audience emojis and reactions through L.I.V.E. Viewers can request songs and also change what view they are seeing. If they want to see the drummer do his solo, they can switch to a different camera angle.


Urban Mobility

HARMAN is known for bringing exciting talent to CES with such stars as Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow. This year’s event ended with a concert by Keith Urban – who is known to do concerts in drive-in movie theatres – and maybe cars in the future? 

“It’s an exciting start for me, and the foundation for many rich, dynamic ‘Experiences Per Mile’ to come from HARMAN,” says Sobottka.

He notes that the HARMAN Envision Cloud-Based 5G connected platform can provide automakers with many advantages. It makes cars future-proof, perfectly intelligent and highly personalised for acceleration and profitability.

“HARMAN brought innovation on the eve of CES 2021,” says Jeffrey Hannah, Director, North America of SBD Automotive.

“Its work with ‘Experiences Per Mile’ rightly identified a key consumer benefit in leveraging their vehicle beyond driving. Gaming, enabling a creative studio on the go, and live concert integration should allow automakers to further differentiate and enable unique experiences which fit with their brand or key consumer segments,” adds Hannah.

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