Porsche presented new software for its sports cars this week. In addition to the PCM 6.0, which has been upgraded with Voice Pilot, and a Track Precision app with improved sensor technology, the prototype of an app was also on display that makes people sit up and take notice – in the truest sense of the word: Porsche Soundtrack My Life could become part of a future infotainment service. But Porsche is not taking its cue from music services like Spotify or Amazon Music. It can best be compared to endless game sound tracks adapted to the situation. The vehicle makes the music – according to how the driver moves it. In other words: pre-composed elements create a soundtrack depending on the individual driving style.
At the moment, Porsche is still experimenting with a smartphone app. But initiator Norman Friedenberger, Product Owner Vehicle Solutions at Porsche Digital, can also imagine direct integration into the vehicle. Friedenberger, who has already worked with Kraftwerk, was inspired by the electric Taycan, but the app is to be rolled out to all model series. Friedenberger, who is a Porsche fan wants to close the emotional gap left by the loss of the brand’s signature engine sound in the electric sports car. In its hip home of Berlin, this is called the Experience Void.
Close the Gap with music
That not only sounds very exciting, it is. That’s why the author and a colleague from a magazine for mobile gadgets were already able to get a first driving impression. A well-known Porsche Taycan 4S with 530 hp and four-wheel drive was ready for LowBeats. But unlike the test car at the time, the Taycan had a Bose sound system (priced well below the Burmester 3D Surround Sound System) for the first drive with the prototype of the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app. However, this time it wasn’t a question of listening to the subtleties, assessing the staging or savoring the dynamics to the full.
You have to think of the Soundtrack My Life project as a particularly agile and above all adaptive lift music for four-wheeled fire chairs. As mentioned, the music adapts to the driving style. For this, the software reacts to lateral and longitudinal acceleration. Acceleration, braking or curvy roads are incorporated into the uninterrupted soundtrack. The music is composed in real time on the basis of the journey, i.e. the Porsche and its driver continue to write the course of the music. However, the course of the music tracks is not abruptly influenced by a cavalier start or a sporty braking maneuver.
The vision of Porsche Digital and its mastermind Friedenberger: In the future, the car itself could be responsible for the music played by its sound system. In the distant future, artificial intelligence could even predict soundtracks that match the driver’s current mood. I have to admit that I like the idea of autonomous music creation far better than autonomous driving.
Not playing guitar with the accelerator
But Porsche does not directly tap into the driving data from the vehicle’s digital on-board network, as it does with the Track Precision app. The Ludwigsburg-based digital forge of the Zuffenhausen brand makes do with the sensors of the iPhone on which the prototype of the app was installed. This may seem surprising at first glance. But Friedenberger and Friends definitely wanted to avoid hectic jumps when accelerating, which I thought of when I asked the corresponding question. Friedenberger is also convinced that image impressions, which could theoretically be obtained from the camera in the vehicle, are not suitable for influencing music. The experienced composer, who has been devoted to music since his early youth, responds to corresponding questions with a counter-question: „What does a sunset sound like?“
The current prototype of the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app generates the individual soundtrack from pre-composed elements. This soundtrack, which is not based on classic song structures but sounds more like a film score, uses so-called stamps in addition to the giro sensors of the smartphone. These music snippets are five to ten minutes long and are specified by Friedenberger and the film music composer Boris Salchow from Los Angeles, who is also involved. Each motto consists of up to 20 such stamps, which are combined and varied again and again. In this way, one gets by for up to a good half hour without repetitions, although the individual elementary particles are only a few minutes long.
Friedenberger clearly rejects artificial intelligence because of the lack of control over the musical end result – unless it is to automatically link the selection of the theme to anticipated moods of the driver one day. Ultimately, the aim is to musically capture moods on which the driving-dependent song design builds. For example, the prototype of the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app includes music theme presets with birdsong for a relaxed nature mood. Songs for night-time cruising and suitable songs for speedy motorway journeys. The names are promisingly „Forrest Of Ozz“, „Night Crawling“ or „Blade Runner“ (my favorite, perhaps also because of the iconic film, with which it has nothing directly to do apart from the mood).
Turn Speed in Sound
The first track, which was chosen to start off on the right foot, made me wonder as I made my way onto the motorway. Is this the real thing? A worn, monotonous carpet of synth spheres enriched by a few emphasized sounds does not necessarily knock the socks off an audiophile spoiled by Burmester systems in Porsche test cars. As a result, I soon turned down the background music. And then the special magic of the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app began to work. I reeled off the one-and-a-half-hour test route in a happy and relaxed manner and didn’t even think about the music any more. I simply enjoyed the ride in the majestically gliding Porsche Taycan 4S.
That’s exactly what the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app is for. This service drive was the exact opposite of previous car audio test drives. It wasn’t about capturing any nuances, evaluating an imaginary listening stage or listening for discoloration and other weaknesses in the sound system’s tuning.
The cultivated, extremely individual background sound discreetly, even partly unconsciously, underlined my journey in the quiet glider. Sometimes, when I succumbed to the temptation to give free rein to the 530 hp in 2-speed sport mode on a country road that was as lonely as it was winding, the discreet whirring and whistling of the electric drive blended so perfectly with the soundtrack that I sometimes thought for a moment that a new sound effect had been added. This perfect harmony was so good that the ride passed by in a relaxed (gliding) flight. Every now and then I thought about the job and changed the song themes, whereby „Blade Runner“ gave me particular pleasure. Likewise the featureless track „Goodbye“, which offered some rhythmic, percussive elements for a change.
Play it again and again
The prototype certainly makes you want more. The vision of the developers involved in the „Soundtrack My Life“ project: adaptive sound could become part of the infotainment offering of future Porsche models and contribute to creating a completely new, emotional sound experience, especially in electric cars.
„It’s not about playing personalized playlists,“ says Norman Friedenberger, Product Owner Vehicle Solutions at Porsche Digital. Friedenberger developed Soundtrack My Life together with film music composer Boris Salchow from Los Angeles. „It’s about creating individual soundtracks composed by drivers and their journeys in real time.“
Porsche Soundtrack My Life app puts driving style to music
In the event of a possible series integration, the app could be installed on a smartphone and connected to the vehicle via the Porsche Connect app. Additional integration into Porsche Communication Management is also possible.
With the Porsche Connect App, the function could also be used outside the vehicle in the future and stored on a smartphone. The developers at Porsche Digital are also thinking about including the vehicle location in the further personalization of the sound experience. In this case, some soundtracks would only be available in certain regions of the world. There are also plans to increase the appeal of the innovative in-car sound experience through targeted collaborations with well-known composers, sound designers and artists.
In the further future, artificial intelligence on the smartphone and in the PCM system could predict which soundtrack best suits the driver’s current mood. The car would know as soon as the driver gets in that he or she has had a busy day and, knowing the driver’s habits and listening preferences, could then generate the appropriate music for the drive home.
Conclusion Porsche Soundtrack My Life App
I would have believed anything but that a sports car from Zuffenhausen would awaken soft sides in me. The Porsche Soundtrack My Life App enhances the effect of the almost silent, smoothly accelerating electric drive. Not surprisingly, it comes not from the development centre in Weissach with its sporty test track, but from Ludwigsburg. Here, according to my observations, there are a feeling of 10 speed cameras per 100 inhabitants.
Norman Freudenberger has really launched a great project, which I hope will soon be available to everyone in the Apple and Google app stores. However, despite all the enthusiasm, I have to admit that I can’t imagine using the Porsche Soundtrack My Life app in a conventional Porsche with a combustion engine. Especially not in the Porsche 718 Cayman S, which I tested a few years ago. Its throaty, turbocharged, 2.5-litre four-cylinder was so infernally loud that I almost gave up trying to drown it out with the over 1,000-watt Burmester sound system in place of earplugs, as in a Lotus Elise.
And when I occasionally watch my own composition on video with the Porsche Racetrack My Life app aka Porsche 911 GT3 from Speed Vegas – it lets you compose epic soundtracks in real time with your right foot – I think that with some of the classics from Zuffenhausen it would be desecration of art to add any more instruments from the synthesizer. But Porsche has masterfully filled the Experience Void of electric mobility with its new sound app.
More Porsche on LowBeats (German language):
Test Porsche App Radio for Classic Cars with Navi and Bluetooth
Test Porsche Taycan with Burmester Sound
Test Porsche 718 Cayman S with Burmester Sound
Test Porsche Panamera 4S with Burmester Auro-3D Sound