Harman Kardon audio wants to lighten your mood while driving with Moodscape

Chief Tech Correspondent
Yahoo Finance
Audio maker Harman Kardon announced a new feature called Moodscape at CES this week. Source: Harman Kardon.
Audio maker Harman Kardon announced a new feature called Moodscape at CES this week. Source: Harman Kardon.

Driving can be a stressful experience, but Harman Kardon wants to take the edge off with a new feature announced at CES 2018 called Moodscape that automatically switches up the music inside your car based on where you’re headed and how you’re feeling.  

According to the Stamford, Conn.-based audio maker, which was acquired by Samsung in March 2017, Moodscape uses a mix of new technology that syncs up with your calendar schedule and current location to pipe out a mix of music and sounds that lead up to whichever meeting or appointment you have lined up next. Just as important, Harman Kardon also wants to figure out your “energy level,” or mood, analyzing biometric data like your heart rate. Moodscape will also pipe out personalized audio alerts for things like navigation, traffic and weather.

Additionally, Moodscape features a so-called “MoodRoof”: a QLED screen that replaces the traditional sunroof in cars and displays different landscapes based on your mood and where you’re going.   

As part of Moodscape, a QLED screen replaces the traditional sun roof in a car and displays different landscapes. Source: Harman Kardon
As part of Moodscape, a QLED screen replaces the traditional sun roof in a car and displays different landscapes. Source: Harman Kardon

“Rather than focusing on the drive, it really allows you to focus on where your drive is taking you,” explains Harman Kardon Vice President of Global Marketing Tom Rivers. “What are you getting ready for? Where are you going in your life?”

Say you’re driving to an important job interview and hit a patch of traffic on the freeway that may cause you to be late. Needless to say, you’re stressed. With access to your schedule, Moodscape should know where you’re headed, but it should also pick up your elevated heart rate. Based on that information, Moodscape will adjust your music to sounds, song tracks and sound levels that will help to relax you.

Harman Kardon has not yet released Moodscape’s price, but told Yahoo Finance it aims to release it by 2021, timed alongside the release of unspecified cars that will be compatible. There were also some questions left unanswered in the lead-up to the announcement, such as how Moodscape will actually gather and analyze people’s biometric data. Will it sync up with devices from outside parties like Fitbit (FIT) and Apple (AAPL)? Or will Harman Kardon have its own devices to gather that data? We’ll likely find out more this week at CES once we spend some hands-on time with Moodscape.

To be sure, Moodscape sounds like a luxury feature and not necessarily a “must-have” for most drivers. But for consumers with significant disposable incomes who spend a lot of time on the road, the Moodscape could prove a nice add-on.

For companies like Harman Kardon, Moodscape is just one effort in its larger push into automobiles. At CES, the company announced a slew of new features, including SHIELD, a new cyber-security dashboard for the car that helps protect it against cyber attacks — an increasing concern, given how connected cars are becoming to the internet.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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