CAMBRIDGE, England - It's a long way from canceling harsh vibrations in helicopters to filling car interiors with music. But a company in the United Kingdom is making that transition.
Audio specialist NXT has developed flat-panel speakers that are standard on four nameplates from British sports car maker TVR.
The TVR Tamora, Tuscan 2, T350 and Sagaris are the first cars to have NXT's flat-panel speakers, which are mounted in the doors or on the instrument panel.
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 originally developed the technology to broadcast sounds that effectively would cancel the vibrations in honeycomb aluminum panels in military helicopters.
NXT is not a manufacturer. It produces only demonstrator units and prototypes at its technology center here, which houses most of the company's 75 employees. But it licenses its technology to 250 companies.
More than a dozen companies in the auto industry are licensees, including DaimlerChrysler AG, General Motors and Fiat Auto.
GM has used NXT panels in five concept cars, including the 2004 Cadillac Cien.
Tier 1 supplier Intier Automotive Inc. 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 the low weight and ease of installation of flat-panel speakers, 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, TVs and public address units.