CAMBRIDGE, England -- It's a long way from canceling harsh vibrations in helicopters to filling car interiors with music, but a UK company is making that technology transition.
Audio specialist NXT has developed flat-panel speakers that are standard equipment on four models from British sports car maker TVR.
The TVR Tamora, Tuscan 2, T350 and Sagaris models are the first cars to have NXT's door- or dash-mounted flat-panel speakers, but several automakers have NXT licenses and some concept cars have used flat-panel speakers.
"The launch proves the technology is roadworthy," NXT Chairman Gordon Owen said in a statement. "We are confident that the work we are doing with other manufacturers in the automotive industry will lead to a wider range of models with NXT technology."
NXT developed the technology originally to broadcast counter-phase sounds that would effectively cancel the vibrations in honeycomb aluminum panels in military helicopters.
NXT is not a manufacturer. It produces demonstrator units and prototypes only at its technology center here, which employs most of the firm's 75 employees. But it licenses its technology to 250 companies.
More than a dozen companies in the auto industry are licensees, including DaimlerChrysler, General Motors and Fiat Auto. GM has used NXT panels in five concept cars, including the 2004 Cadillac Cien. Tier 1 supplier Intier just introduced a range of flat-panel speakers for recreational vehicles. NXT and Philips Sound Solutions will develop, make and market high-powered speakers for automotive use. NXT expects other automotive deals this year, spokesman James Bullen said.
"NXT [speakers] offer a superior alternative to existing technologies and create new opportunities where conventional technology has been unable to deliver," Bullen said.
TVR likes flat-panel speakers' low weight and ease of installation, TVR spokesman Phil James said.
"Flat panels can be fitted to any surface," he said. "They are space efficient, deliver quality audio over a wide frequency, and are cost effective for an automaker our size."
Despite size, weight and space advantages, flat-panel speakers have been slow to take off in automotive use because of industry design complexity and continued improvements in conventional speakers.
In 2004, 4 million speakers with NXT technology were used in personal computers, mobile phones, televisions and public address units.