The 2017 E-Class is shaping up to be a massive technological leap for Mercedes-Benz, packed with everything from car-to-X communication to using your smartphone to replace the key fob and remote park the new sedan. But a system called “Pre-Safe Sound” will blow your mind – and not your eardrums.
In addition to Mercedes using the inflatable side bolsters to move passengers towards the center of the car in a side-impact crash, part of its new suite of passive safety features uses sound to protect the occupant’s ears from the cacophony of a collision.
Our bodies react to loud sounds by involuntarily contracting the stapedius and tensor tympani muscles in our the middle ears (yeah, I had to look that up, too). It’s known as the acoustic or “stapedius” reflex and it’s a way of protecting the important bits of our inner ear from suffering damage.
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When the E-Class detects a collision is imminent, the stereo sends what Mercedes describes as a “short interference signal” – basically a loud tone – just before the crash to trigger the ear’s reflex, causing the muscle to contract and muting the high pressure sounds of both the crunch of metal and glass, as well as the airbag’s bang.
Other notable features on the new E include semi-autonomous driving on the freeways, the ability to communicate with other Mercedes cars over its own proprietary network, using near field communication (NFC) to allow the phone to work as the car’s keyfob, and using the same phone to remotely control the car into and out of a tight space – unfortunately, that latter part won’t make it to the U.S. at launch.
All the E-Class’ toys will be revealed in full over the next few months before its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January, with sales beginning next summer.