Sonos has been awarded a patent for a method of allowing guests to access a media system without them encroaching on your home network … or commercial network, as the case may be.
Sonos filed the patent application, “Media system access via cellular network,” in September 2013, and was awarded the patent on January 19, 2016.
The patent describes a way of “establishing a simple and secure way to allow a user using a mobile device to control a media playback system without having direct access to the secure local network that the playback system is using.”
In other words, if you want to let guests access your Sonos or some other media system, but don’t want to give them access to your secure LAN, then they can control the system using their smart phones via a cellular connection.
In this way, owners need not worry about giving out their Wi-Fi passwords and potentially exposing their networks and everything connected to it.
As the patent abstract describes:
The media playback system may include one or more playback devices synchronously rendering media content. A user of the mobile device may obtain a system identifier of the playback system that is then sent to a remote server via a cellular network. The remote server, which is in communication with one or more media playback systems, may use the system identifier to recognize the correct media playback system and provide the mobile device with configuration information of the media playback system. Subsequently, the mobile device may use the given information to join the media playback system and control one or more features of the media playback system via a cellular network.
Here is one implementation that Sonos describes in its patent:
In some embodiments, a user may wish to experience media playback by a media playback system as described above, but may not have access to the secure local network the media playback system uses. This may be, for example, at a friend's house, a restaurant, a coffee house, or a point-of-sale location for media playback system devices. In these cases, the user may be carrying a mobile device with access to a cellular network such as a 3G or 4G network. In one example, the media playback system may have a corresponding Quick Response (QR) code. As such, the user may scan the QR code to obtain a system identifier used to identify the media playback system. The QR code may be located on one or more of the playback devices grouped to form the media playback system. Alternatively, the QR code may be located at other locations such as a sheet of paper provided by the owner of the media playback system. In another example, the user may manually enter a code on the interface of the mobile device, where the code is used to identify the media playback system. In another example, a user may have to use the mobile device to directly browse to a link that will allow for identification of the media playback system. In yet another example, a user may have to send a text with a code to a pre-defined number, and receive in response a link that will allow for identification of the media playback system.
The patent goes on to describe examples of controllers, applications and UIs, as when a group of guests contribute to a single playlist. We begin to see how party goes can share the multimedia experience, without compromising the password-protected LAN.
At the very least, your nosy mother-in-law can enjoy her own tunes in the guest bedroom without hacking your home.