Philips Cracks the Sonos Code; Integrates Audio with Automation
Sonos wireless audio can now be integrated into a whole-house entertainment and automation system using a Philips Pronto universal remote control
Now, instead of relying on Sonos’s proprietary touchscreen controllers (or iPhone), you can integrate the product into a whole-house control system.
“Sonos delivers a great multiroom audio experience,” says Philips marketing director Rudy Musschebroeck. “We deliver a great control experience.”
In the Philips booth at CES 2010, the Sonos system is fed through a receiver. The receiver handles the volume control via a Pronto remote – something you can’t do with a Sonos controller.
More importantly, users can access Sonos through the same remote control—a TSU9800 or TSU9600—that operates other entertainment and automation systems in the home.
Furthermore, Pronto dealers can customize the Sonos interface to the consumer’s liking and, even better, incorporate Sonos audio into whole-house scenes.
A “wake-up” button on a Pronto remote, for example, could slowly ramp up the lights and the music in the bedroom.
What Took So Long?
On its own, what the Sonos product does is spectacular – high-quality, wireless multiroom audio that simply works.
But the Sonos ecosystem is locked, and the company does not enable third-party development around its platform (except for iPhone).
Philips managed to crack the code, however, and now offers seamless integration.
Sonos communicates via UPnP, so the first step for Philips was to get a UPnP engine into Pronto. But Sonos adds some special sauce that makes it invisible to the network.
“Through some trial and error, we were able to reverse-engineer it,” says Musschebroeck.
Here’s how Philips puts it in the related press release:
The new PEP 2.4 [ProntoEdit Professional] software features enhanced UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)/DNLA (Digital Network Living Alliance) compatibility. The UPnP/DNLA engine now incorporated into the Pronto platform accelerates the development of two-way integration modules between A/V servers, players and control devices, so providing a straightforward, single solution for controlling any product of manufacturers adhering to the UPnP standard. The UPnP discovery mechanism embedded within the software’s ProntoScript library will help the Pronto control panel automatically find IP devices on the network.
Significantly, these developments allow Pronto to integrate Sonos multi-room audio systems quickly and directly into a system without the need for special hardware, additional PC’s or the use of a Sonos controller. The upgraded software also enables Pronto to control and access content from TwonkyMedia-based equipment, being one of the most popular UPnP servers on the market. New Sonos and TwonkyMedia pre-configured modules are available in ProntoScript.
There’s no hard feelings from Sonos, though. Musschebroeck says that some Sonos execs visited the Philips booth during CES and they were “very excited” about the interface.
No doubt, integrators are, too.
“They can go back to all their Sonos customers and add control from Philips,” Musschebroeck says.
Philips isn’t exactly the first to crack the Sonos code. An Australian company called AVD has been offering Sonos integration software for Pronto remotes for at least a year.
The difference? Philips’s own version is free and the integration is seamless.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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