SSZ sounds as if it might be a new high performance model from the US, but it does in fact stand for Separated Sound Zone — a next-generation development in sound technology.

It’s from Kia and it lets each passenger enjoy an audio stream tailored to their individual needs, such as music, hands-free phone calls, vehicle alerts for the driver, and also has a headphone-free social space where passengers can chat away freely.

The Korean maker says its SSZ technology creates and controls the acoustic fields of the car, allowing everyone inside to hear isolated sounds.

Multiple speakers use scientific principles to reduce or increase audio levels of sound waves, which negate the overlap of sounds being heard in each seat.

The result is similar to current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.

“I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment,” Kia’s NVH Research Lab’s Kang-duck Ih said.

Musical tastes vary, so some passengers choose to use headphones during a journey to isolate their audio stream, but it creates an unnecessary social barrier when interacting with other passengers.

However, travelling in a vehicle with SSZ technology, each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without interference from, or interfering with other passenger’s audio streams.

Hands-free phone calls can also be isolated to individual passengers, ensuring privacy while on the move.

This ground-breaking technology can also eliminate unnecessary sounds for the passenger, but provide them for the driver.

SSZ technology has been in development since 2014, and the completed mass production system is expected to be ready for installation in Kias within the next year or two.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.