Harman grabs hidden infotainment gem S1nn

December 18, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive infotainment company Harman International Industries has reached an agreement to acquire S1nn GmbH & Co. Despite maintaining a low profile, the Stuttgart-based company is well known in the automotive industry - S1nn engineers have played a major role in infotainment design for carmakers like Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Tesla.

S1nn's latest achievement, announced the same day as the acquisition through Harman, is the design of the surround sound system for the Tesla S - a system that delivers awesome 500 watts of sound power out of a 25 litre bass speaker. S1nn's collaboration with Tesla dates back to 2009 when the company agreed to design Tesla's Model S sound system. Features are a speed-dependent volume control (so far, nothing special) with likewise speed-dependent bass adjustment. The system is fine-tuned to the acoustic properties of Tesla's top-of-the-range sedan - certainly a special challenge since the electric vehicle is extremely silent. For Tesla's vehicle designers, the sound plays a central role for customer experience. For this reason, the designers enforced the sheets and panelling around the loudspeakers for more dynamic sound with less interference.

Another lighthouse project for S1nn is the sound system in the Porsche 918 - an extreme high-end luxury sports car that sells at the astronomic price of 768.000 euros; only 918 pieces will ever be built (according to Porsche, the production is already sold out). In the 918, S1nn designed the infotainment with pioneering deployment of HTML5 as the software basis for its multi-display head unit.

Harman, whose German subsidiary is located in Karlsbad, a 15 minute ride on the Autobahn A8 to Stuttgart, said it is is interested in the 100-person company for its advanced capabilities in infotainment, including HTML5 solutions, mobile device integration, and car audio systems. Harman itself claims to be involved in more than 80 percent of the world's luxury vehicle's infotainment systems. The company currently sits on a $20.5 billion backlog in automotive systems alone.

As usual in such cases, no details regarding to the takeover were provided. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

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