The sounds a modern car makes are deliberate, designed, and a deception: the clicking of the turn signal isn't a mechanical tick-tock; it's an MP3 of a mechanical tick-tock, played back through hidden speakers. The engine's rumble is tuned with active noise-cancelling that mutes the tones that jangle the ears.
But as you reduce the speed that the drive shaft is rotating, you lower the frequency of the sound it’s making. There comes a lower limit where the engine is making what Gordon calls “groan-y and moan-y” noises which people find unpleasant. The car sounds broken. So cars had to keep the engine’s RPM above a certain level, hurting their fuel efficiency, or risk alienating customers.
GM’s solution was to implement active noise cancellation, the same technique used in some headphones to quiet ambient noise. Microphones in the body listen to the ambient sounds the car and engine are making, and the car plays the opposite of that over the vehicle’s speakers. The sound waves from the engine are cancelled out by the sound from the entertainment system, netting a quieter ride that can be more fuel efficient without being so bothersome.
Some sounds in the car are completely artificial. The telltale clicking of a turn signal was once an artifact of the mechanical process that turned the light on and off. But that mechanism has long since been replaced by an electronic circuit that operates silently. Still, audible feedback is valuable so the car plays an MP3 file of a turn signal over the speakers.
How GM makes a car sound like what a car is supposed to sound like [Tim Maly/Medium]
It turns out a lot of the aesthetics of the 1980s can be traced back to an Italian design collective. As Vox explains in this new video created by Dion Lee: [The] Memphis Design movement dominated the ’80s with their crazy patterns and vibrant colors. Many designers and architects from all around the world contributed […]
The Flux chair is a $130, 12lb “origami-style” polypropylene lounge chair designed by Douwe Jacobs; it sets up in minutes and is stable and lovely (there’s also a $65 kids’ version and a whole range of furnishings including a bar, coffee table, countertop, end-table, etc). (via Yanko Design)
Think you know how to make something cool? Mid-century industrial designer Raymond Leowry sure did. He’s behind some of the most iconic pieces of American culture, including the Coke bottle and the Shell logo. In this video, Derek Thompson of The Atlantic shares Leowry’s effective MAYA (Most Advanced. Yet Acceptable) principle. The trick is this, […]
Learning a new language will give your resume an upgrade, sure, but it will also provide a huge cognitive boost for mental tasks outside of translation and conversation. Bilingual brains have been shown to be better at handling multiple concurrent tasks, and gaining fluency in a new tongue is an amazing way to improve memory, […]
If you struggle to get a good night’s rest, consider replacing your pillows before dropping hundreds on a new mattress. You can give your tired neck a break with a 2-pack of memory foam pillows, available now in the Boing Boing Store.Each of these pillows is stuffed with cooling polyurethane foam that molds to your […]
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]