Michael Papish at CEDIA: How Sonos is Developing Music VUI with Amazon Alexa

CEDIA 2016: Sonos platform director Michael Papish discusses the nuances of building a voice user interface (VUI) for whole-house audio with Amazon Alexa.


Last month, Amazon Alexa and Sonos announced they were working together to develop voice control for whole-house audio. What does that mean exactly?

At CEDIA 2016 in Dallas this week, we spoke with Sonos director of platform strategy Michael Papish, who provided some insight into the “long-term strategic partnership with Amazon.”

Papish says Sonos has always believed in the concept of voice control for music because, of course, “Voice is the most human way of interacting … ever.”

The big question is: How do you apply it to whole-house music?

Together, Sonos and Amazon are trying to figure that out, determining how people refer to rooms of the house, how they discover and play music, who in the home uses – or could use – a music system, and more global things like: How personal do you want to get with your Amazon Echo?

Papish notes, “We have found that many people say ‘Thank you’ to Alexa.”

Should Alexa respond with, “You’re welcome?”

In this video from CEDIA, Papish shares some of the nuances that go into building a VUI, especially when you’re dealing with multiple personalities under one roof. After all, kids want their Lion King soundtrack, right?

Ultimately, the VUI development process will yield something like what Alexa has with lighting, thermostat and fan control – a native integration that allows users to speak naturally to control their smart devices, without having to ask Alexa to “tell Sonos to play ….”

A public Beta of voice-control for Sonos will be available by the end of the year.

In other Sonos news, the company is demonstrating the fruits of its new integration partnerships, showcasing new keypad controls from Lutron and iPort, as well as touchscreen interfaces from Control4, Crestron and Savant.

Papish says the intent is to work with other home-automation companies, particularly those in the custom channel because “those are the people that can tie it all together.”

NEXT: Amazon's Charlie Kindel on Developing VUIs for the Smart Home


About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

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


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