CES 2024: Mercedes-Benz enlists Will.i.am for “interactive music experience”, MBUX Sound Drive

The company’s new MBUX Sound Drive feature uses sensors and software to match the music playing in a vehicle to the way someone is driving.

Mercedes Benz MBUX Sound Drive

Credit: Mercedes Benz Group

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CES 2024: Will.i.am is working with Mercedes-Benz to create a new “interactive musical experience” for its cars.

The company recently announced MBUX Sound Drive, a new feature which uses sensors and software to match the music playing in a vehicle to the way someone is driving. Mercedes says it has composed musical tracks to pair with regular driving functions such as acceleration, steering, and braking, turning the whole car – as Will.i.am explains – into its own “orchestra”.

Drivers can opt in for this unique musical experience by selecting Sound Drive through their infotainment screen, which then links the car’s hardware with the music software through “precise ‘in-car signals’ that enable the music to react to the driving characteristics in real-time”.

Mercedes Benz MBUX Sound Drive
Credit: Mercedes Benz Group

This could work in several different ways – for example, turning on the windscreen wipers could activate lo-fi beats for driving to in the rain, while an EDM beat would get progressively faster as you accelerate down a motorway.

On top of this, Mercedes has said it wants Sound Drive to be an “open music platform” so any musician can create their own auditory soundscape for driving. Artists around the world have been invited to “create tracks” for a variety of driving functions.

Sound Drive will be available to owners of Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with the second generation of the MBUX system from mid-2024. The feature can be downloaded via an over-the-air software update. Pricing information was not immediately available.

In August, the Black Eyed Peas rapper offered his thoughts on AI, reminding listeners on the Diary of a CEO podcast that despite the fears around the technology, it’s still only in its infancy.

Will.iam talks at CES 2024 on behalf of Mercedes Benz
Credit: Mercedes Benz Group

“If you’re a marketer, if you’re an artist that works for a brand, if you’re an agency that works for brands – this technology is gonna give super creatives agency,” he says. “So why do they need agencies?”

“Just the vast transformation – and for hyper creatives, now they just need a new tool to help them birth stuff. It’s a new renaissance.

“It’s the ultimate dream if you’re preparing. A section of the world whose problems have always been ignored [can] now go out and solve those problems with this tool.”

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