No matter your experience with cars, chances are that you’ve had the pleasure of speaking to someone who was using a Bluetooth phone system while driving. And if that person wasn’t in a vehicle with a quiet cabin, then what you heard wasn’t only the voice of the person to whom you were talking, but also a significant amount of road and wind noise. Suffice to say, the ensuing low-fidelity exchange wasn’t a pleasurable experience. Luckily, there’s a remedy for this, and it’s called quiet interiors.
Not only do quiet interiors make for a great driving experience, but they also improve the functionality of the infotainment systems in most cars. Buick’s QuietTuning suite of technologies, for instance, allow for better recognition of voice commands by the car’s IntelliLink infotainment systems while reducing the amount of ambient road noise transferred via the microphone during a Bluetooth conversation.
For the uninitiated, QuietTuning is Buick’s comprehensive engineering approach to reduce, block and absorb interior noise. In the Buick LaCrosse, for instance, that results in features like laminated window glass, triple door seals and liquid applied sound deadening.
“There’s definitely an advantage when we’re developing voice controls in a quieter cabin,” said General Motors speech recognition engineer Robert Sims. “The system’s ability to hear a command relies on SNR, or signal-to-noise ratio. If noise is extremely low like it is in the LaCrosse, the user’s voice, or signal, can be lower. In other words, a LaCrosse driver can easily speak to the IntelliLink system at a normal, conversational volume.”
Standard on every 2013 Buick, IntelliLink allows drivers to use voice commands to control navigation and audio functions safely, as they don’t need to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
The system receives commands via a microphone in the cabin’s headliner, which was optimally positioned by Sims and his team. From there, a speech engine matches spoken words to known voice commands; when the engine finds a match, that command is executed. And as you would expect, the less unwanted ambient noise present in the cabin, the better the speech recognition system works.
So the benefit of a quiet cabin is really two-fold: it decreases driver fatigue while making the car a better listener, thereby improving speech recognition and the quality of Bluetooth calls. The end result is a better experience for the vehicle’s occupants… isn’t that ultimately the goal?
Of course, Buick and QuietTuning aren’t the only examples of hushed interiors in the General Motors lineup, as all cabins of Cadillac vehicles are engineered to the same (or even higher) standards. But it’s good to know that The General is taking a wholesome approach to weeding unwanted noises out of the interiors of its vehicles, and is doing so for the right reasons.