"There are both creative and technical elements in fine-tuning our sounds to get them exactly right," said Petniunas. "A key objective is identifying the kinds of warnings drivers will find both more effective and easier to understand so that safety features are used correctly and more frequently."
A team of Ford engineers spend their days dreaming up sounds and subjecting them to a battery of tests to determine which warnings help drivers best react to possible dangers and work in harmony with other sounds in the vehicle.
In developing its safety sound cues, Ford relies on principles of music theory, mathematical analysis and psychoacoustics ( the study of sound perception) to research properties such as pleasantness, loudness and sharpness.
As a musical composer might select from different types of sound to cast a specific mood, Ford sound technicians choose from a palette of psychoacoustic parameters to create the ideal acoustical and vibrational environment based on the following measures:
Ford included the following automotive systems into the acoustic design research:
BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert: Identifies when a vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the corresponding exterior rear view mirror, providing a warning that a vehicle is approaching. An audible alert is sounded as well.
Collision warning with brake support: This technology is designed to help drivers avoid rear-end collisions. Using long-range radar hidden in the front of the vehicle, collision warning detects moving vehicles ahead and alerts the driver of a collision risk with an alarm and warning light.
MyKey: Allows parents to limit vehicle's top speed and radio volume to encourage teens to drive more safely and improve fuel efficiency. The audio controls are important to maintaining a volume level that ensures drivers can hear outside warnings, such as emergency response vehicles and traffic hazard signals. It also encourages seat belt use, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 72km/h (45mph), 88.5 km/h (55 mph) or 105 km/h (65 mph).
Belt-Minder: A seat belt reminder technology for the front occupants that takes over after the initial seat belt reminder stops chiming. If the occupants remain unbuckled, the system chimes and flashes a warning lamp periodically for five minutes, or until the driver buckles up, whichever comes first.