Electric Vehicles & The Power of Sound

by MassiveMusic and Studio Tom Middleton



Cities are unpredictable and chaotic by nature. That’s what makes urban life paradoxically exciting, stressful, and bourgeoning.

With the advent of smart urban planning, transport is undergoing a serious reset, with public mobility having a face ‘lift’ and Autonomous Vehicles making their way into our present reality.

If you grab any automotive report, the key headline revolves around What Does The Future Of Autonomous Vehicles Look Like?, mostly focusing on automation and optimisation.

As with any radical innovations at scale, subtle nuances influence public opinion, value perception and, ultimately, their successful adoption. Henry Ford famously stated that “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

So, in a fast evolving world where we’re struggling to decelerate, what is it that we are really after? Even faster+smarter cars or more thoughtful ones?

Welcome to the era of Conscious Vehicles – a time for automotive giants to go beyond limited notions of functional automation, and embrace more empathetic technologies designed to predict and improve our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.

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From Smart To Conscious

The global mental wellness economy identifies and measures the four sub-markets: 1) senses, spaces and sleep ($49.5 billion), 2) brain-boosting nutraceuticals & botanicals ($34.8 billion), 3) self-improvement ($33.6 billion), and 4) meditation and mindfulness ($2.9 billion)

If good design is a reflection of the world around it, then, according to the Global Wellness Institute, we should be designing for a global population suffering from accelerated rates of stress, worry, sadness, overwhelm, burnout, and loneliness.

Conscious Vehicles unlock a promising space of in-vehicle wellness services focused on mood regulation – transforming your commute to an opportunity to optimise your mood and energy levels. Try to think about it. How can your car energise you in the morning, diminish commute stress, or optimise your sleep in long-distance travel?

At MassiveMusic, we’ve been working with Studio Tom Middleton on exploring ways of using sound and vibration to change one’s state of mind. We’ve already comforted childrens’ insomnia in Nissan Electric Vehicles (silent EVs = no combustion vibration = they can’t sleep!) by designing sleep-inducing inaudible frequencies. Next, we’re going after exploring how to calm down angry drivers in peak traffic moments.

Yes Coach

Commutes are traditionally physically draining and cognitively demanding, especially if you’re lucky to live in congested cities. But a daily commute in the eyes of a behavioural scientist isn’t a problem – it’s a unique opportunity to change behaviour and imprint better habits.

This can be achieved both passively via effortless interventions (e.g. automated postural seat adjustments that reduce travel fatigue) and actively via peak performance programs (e.g. interactive exercises to upregulate the mind and the body).

On our end, we’ve been exploring how daily micro-rituals (e.g. functional soundscapes and breathing patterns) can transform your vehicle into a ‘mind gym’, increasing cognitive abilities and enhancing emotional regulation.

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Autonomous Car(e)s

We’ve heard the term ‘hyper-personalisation’ for years, but we’re finally about to start seeing it happen. Once we stop driving, autonomous vehicles will no longer exist as transport mediums. But combine Sensory Design, Geolocation, Spatial Sound and Augmented Reality and you have the ultimate lens for edutainment.

Every journey becomes an opportunity to immerse – whether your mobile wellness apps sync up with your cabin interior turning it into a rolling zen temple or your rear passengers explore urban landscapes via mixed reality head-up display.

What does this mean for automotive brands?

In-car wellbeing presents itself as not only a very promising market but also as a highly relevant and in-demand differentiator. Mood regulation, increased productivity and deep relaxation represent some of the promising use cases that will become the focus of ‘automotive upgrades’. According to Vantage Market Research, the global car accessories market revenue stood at a value USD 416.4 Billion in the year 2021 and is expected to grow to exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4% during the forecasted to reach USD 604.1 billion by 2028.

Ask yourself, as we step into a world marked by more and more chaos (pandemics, turf wars, economic crises, you name it), will consumers seek faster horses or will they expect in-vehicle technologies to sense, assess and intervene to improve their overall wellbeing?

If this article resonates with you and you believe WellTech will reshape this industry, please get in touch to explore the possibilities at the intersection of wellbeing and transport.