New Automotive Safety Systems Will Soon Be Able Communicate with Traffic Lights, Bridges and Toll Roads, Thanks to Harman

A Girls Guide To Cars | New Automotive Safety Systems Will Soon Be Able Communicate With Traffic Lights, Bridges And Toll Roads, Thanks To Harman - Jeep Compass Dash

Our favorite audio brand is advancing automotive safety in innovative new ways.

Are you confident driving in bad weather or on an empty road late at night?  Would you want to feel more confident?  You are not alone. According to the US Dept. of Transportation, nearly one-fifth of accidents are caused by weather-related factors, including slippery roads and lack of visibility. Modern technology is ready to protect us, with a new high-tech system that will alert you to a risky situation ahead, whether that’s wildlife, a patch of ice, a wrong way driver or a cyclist.  

The new system is from Harman, best known for top quality audio systems in our homes, vehicles and favorite concert venues. What few of us know is that Harman also is a major player in the increasingly-important field of connectivity, especially in vehicles. It’s an addition to current safety systems which alert us to a vehicle in our blind spot, or that we’re too close to another vehicle in the parking lot.

The new system is called MECWAVE, and it’s another layer of what’s called vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication between infrastructure and our vehicles.  As with everything in our increasingly connected lives, it’s complicated. Think of it as the next safety advance after automatic braking, seat belt pre-tensioning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts and all the other safety technology our late model vehicles feature.

Related: Demystifying Safety Features in Cars…By Auto Maker

Harman Savari Streetwave Interface Diagram. Image: Harman

Harman Savari StreetWAVE Interface diagram. Image: Harman

Infrastructure Is The Key

Many of the safety systems in our cars go completely unnoticed by us. Obviously, we see our cameras, but we are aware of other systems only when they save our hides. We don’t usually give too much thought as to how those beeps and interventional devices get their information. Current safety systems operate via cameras, radar or lidar on our vehicles, communicating information about what’s a few inches or a few feet from our vehicles.  The new Harman system is different, because it communicates to our vehicles from wireless communication systems alongside the roadway. Yes, MECWAVE sends messages to your car to give it a heads-up that something is amiss on the road ahead.

Related: Why Car Safety Features Are the No. 1 Reason to Buy a New (or Newish) Car

Harman Streetwave Device. Photo: Harman

Harman StreetWAVE device. Photo: Harman

So How Does MECWAVE Work? 

MECWAVE works with two other Harman systems, StreetWAVE and MobiWAVE, to reduce traffic-related emergencies by giving the vehicle – and us – precious seconds, or even milliseconds, to prepare and act.

StreetWAVE is mounted on roadside utility poles, or on other wireless communication structures along the roadside, using the also-new 5G technology.

MobiWAVE transmits real-time data about local weather and traffic conditions from StreetWAVE to MECWAVE for processing – and does it all in the blink of an eye.  (We told you it’s complicated.)

Forget the hardware and the software.  Just know it could save your life and those of your passengers.  And since the system also sends a signal to that wrong way or drunk driver, it could save him or her, too, along with his or her passengers.

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Harman Mobiwave Device. Photo: Harman

Harman MobiWAVE device. Photo: Harman

Harman is Partnering with Auto Makers to Make this Happen

Since the system is brand new, Harman is working with auto manufacturers, especially those who feature Haman audio systems, to add this additional layer of protection in their suites of onboard safety systems.  Manufacturers which feature Harmon Kardon speakers include Kia, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Subaru and Volvo. So expect to see it in a future new model you buy or lease.

Harman has not yet announced whether the alert signal will be a blink or other warning on the dashboard or a vibration in the steering wheel or driver seat, or a combination, so stay tuned. 

There also are applications for pedestrians and cyclists to take advantage of this new early alert system, working with urban areas to add the MECWAVE infrastructure.  But that’s down the road – literally.

Related: Harman Wants To Transform Your Car Into The Perfect Office on the Go

Harman Is Perfectly Positioned To Develop this New Technology

That’s because more than 50 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with Harman audio and connected car systems, and company software services power billions of mobile devices and systems connected, integrated and secure across all platforms. 

You might recognize the company’s sound system brands, which include AKG, Harman Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel, long admired by audiophiles, musicians and the entertainment venues around the world where they perform. And, you might recognize the company’s owner: Samsung Electronics. 

This deep experience, aided by 30,000 employees around the globe, uniquely positions Harman for these next steps in automotive safety. And imagine having confidence that not just your car, but the systems around you, are looking out for your safety so you can just turn up the music and enjoy the ride.

Evelyn Kanter has been reporting about safety, value and destinations for longer than she cares to admit publicly, first... More about Evelyn Kanter