Seoul - Imagine driving your car and being able to listen to different music to that of your passengers - without anyone wearing headphones.

Kia says it’s possible with its new Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology, which would allow dad to listen to Guns ‘n Roses while the kids in the back seat enjoy Justin Bieber.

Each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without any unwanted vibes trickling across invisible audio barriers - all whilst maintaining a headphone-free social space where passengers can converse freely.

Although it’s difficult to imagine how it works, Kia says the many speakers installed in the vehicle use scientific principles to reduce or increase audio levels of sound waves. This negates the overlap of sounds being heard in each seat, creating the same effect as current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.

“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customisable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System,” says Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at Kia’s NVH Research Lab.

“People’s musical tastes vary, so some passengers choose to use headphones during a journey to isolate their audio stream, but this also creates an unnecessary social barrier when interacting with other passengers.”

The system should make it into Kia’s production cars within one to two years.

Drive360