This Innovative Gadget Makes Engine, Wind Noise Less Annoying During Phone Calls

Talking on the phone while driving has been improved substantially in the last few years, mostly thanks to the addition of more advanced microphones and technology capable of improving call quality and reducing background noises.
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But a company called TP Lab and headquartered in Palo Alto has a different idea: what if instead of bundling such technology with our phones we equip our cars with a phone stand that packs a super-advanced system with multiple microphones and speakers?

A closer look at this idea is provided in a patent covering a so-called “Phone stand using a plurality of directional speakers” and which was published in mid-January.

This phone stand isn’t only a typical phone holder, but also an advanced system that includes multiple directional speakers, microphones, system controllers, and other tech used to direct sound to an area where the driver is expected to be, capture sound from their voice, and eventually ensure high-quality audio during a phone call.

The whole idea here is to combat background noise that typically affects the quality of a phone call, including wind and engine noise, echo, and pretty much any other sound that would technically force drivers to manually adjust the speaker volume or speak louder.

“A noisy environment is not unique to a car or bus. Workers often find similar situations in a work area. Using a voice or audio device such as a phone in a noisy work place is difficult and frustrating,” the inventors explain in the patent filing.

The system controller plays an essential role in this phone stand, as it must analyze all sounds to determine what to do next.

“The system controller is configured to: receive audio signals of the voice session from the phone; separate the audio signals into speech signals and non-speech signals; obtain one or more output mixing attributes; generate mixed signals by combining the speech signals and the non-speech signals according to the one or more output mixing attributes; and send the mixed signals to the plurality of directional speakers,” one example in the patent reads.

Such technology can also be used to improve interaction with smart features, such as digital assistants in the car, as voice commands would no longer be affected by background noise.

But of course, it’s important to remember this is just a patent for the time being, and there’s still no guarantee that such an idea ever reaches mass production. 

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