DESIGN / TECHNOLOGY

Sonos introduces Voice Control technology with extra privacy features for its sound systems

”Voice is one of the most natural ways to ask your speaker to do something,” says Kelsey Rodenbiker, product marketing manager.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
June 10, 2022

It all starts with Hey Sonos. When the leading high-end speaker company presents its new Voice Control feature, the aim is to deliver fast, accurate, hands-free control of the music with an extra focus on privacy. Designed to understand everyday language and the nuance of human communication, it will respond to natural commands like ”turn it up!” and limits responses to get access to the music faster. The user can use it to play music, group speakers, move music around the home, save and like favourite songs to the personal music library and more. It can also mix and match requests — ”Hey Sonos, play [artist’s name] very quietly”; ”Hey Sonos, stop playing in the kitchen and play in the living room instead”, and ”Hey Sonos, volume up in the bedroom only” — and allows to control every speaker in the home.

— We acquired Paris-based company Snips, and the team has been working on it for the last couple of years to bring it to market, Kelsey Rodenbiker, product marketing manager, explains. What’s really unique about it is that all of the voice processing happens locally on the device, nothing is sent into the cloud — not your voice, not transcripts — and that means a couple of things. It means that we’re able to be very fast, because it’s all processed locally, and also that we can offer privacy — a human doesn’t read your transcripts or your records, and everything happens locally — plus that we’re super accurate. It’s not meant to be a ’general purpose’ voice assistant, like others, but the goal is to be able to control your system. Voice is one of the most natural ways to ask your speaker to do something.

— When we speak to our customers, we hear that privacy concerns mean many are choosing not to use voice control, so Voice Control is created purely for listening on Sonos and designed with privacy at its core, Joseph Dureau, vice president, Voice Experience, adds.

The initial launch is in the US this month, followed by France later this year and the company chose award-winning actor Giancarlo Esposito — best known for his roles in Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and The Mandalorian — to deliver a familiar voice for US customers.

Giancarlo Esposito.

Kelsey Rodenbiker, we have the technology now, can you share any predictions on where we are now and in the future?

— It’s hard to speculate, but what I can say is that one of the most common reasons why people don’t activate voice on their products is that they’re concerned about privacy, so we can’t compromise on that and we need to make it simple. Our goal is that if you’re able to do something via our app, you will be able to do it with your voice.

After collaborating with HAY on a limited edition collection in five colours, Sonos now also offers its portable smart speaker Roam in three new colours — Sunset, Olive, and Wave. The waterproof durability and up to 10 hours of battery life remain the same.

Sonos Roam.

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