24.01.17

Sonos reveals plans for speaker with in-built Alexa technology

Sonos speaker and Amazon Echo placed next to each other

Sonos has announced that it is currently working on manufacturing a speaker with integrated Amazon Alexa technology.

According to Variety magazine, simply offering Echo support is not enough for Sonos, who are backing voice control to such an extent it is working on a specific product incorporating Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant technology.

The manufacturer’s newly appointed CEO, Patrick Spence, told the publication that Sonos fans will soon be able to control the company’s speakers with voice without the need for an Alexa device. Asked whether it in the Sonos’ sights to bring to market a speaker that has microphones and Amazon’s Alexa technology built-in, Spence responded; “Yes, there will be.” He continued: "I'm very confident that we can deliver multiple systems to our users.”

Spence’s announcement and appointment last month signals the new direction the company is hoping to take, with aspirations to cement a place in integrator’s hearts following collaborations with the likes of Crestron, Control4 and Lutron. His appointment followed several layoffs and the resignation of the company’s founding CEO John MacFarlane, after his public admission that the company had ignored the rise of voice-controlled speakers.

No information regarding a release for the voice-controlled Sonos speakers was given by Spence, although it may take some time before we see this kind of product in the marketplace (let alone after ironing out details if they plan to work with both Amazon and Google).  In a recent interview with HiddenWires, its managing director in the UK, John Gahagan, stated: “The first generation of products is showing that voice is great for scenarios with smaller types of tasks, but it is also navigating large and complex libraries of content. We’re still a way off from perfecting this, but integrating with other smart systems will allow Sonos to be the two-way bridge that enables voice control and high fidelity sound output.”

He added: "The transformation of voice technology won’t happen overnight, and it won’t be easy but Sonos is working with an ecosystem of partners to usher in a new era of connected home listening.”

With the integration with Alexa itself yet to be perfected by Sonos, the announcement from Spence could take a while to materialise in the marketplace.

Also on the agenda for Sonos is adding Google to its list of voice partnerships. "I'd love to be supporting not only Echo and [Echo] Dot, but also Google Home," said Spence.