Select remote controls from Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) can now operate a Sonos multiroom audio system.
Sonos does not provide a software developer’s kit for third-party control system; nor does the company support integration efforts by third parties, as we reported after CES 2010.
Sonos executives tell CE Pro that the company wants to maintain the reliability of its products, and the satisfaction of its customers, by keeping the Sonos system somewhat locked down.
“Sonos products just work,” says UEI technical product specialist Leo Kuipers.
Inserting UEI’s Nevo remotes into the ecosystem should not undermine the integrity of Sonos products, Kuipers suggests. In fact, it should enhance the experience if customers don’t want to juggle multiple remote controls, or they want to connect their Sonos through other audio systems.
At ISE, UEI is controlling multiple Sonos systems connected to a Russound whole-house audio system.
And, as with Philips, the Sonos control is relegated to its own microcosm within the Nevo control so you cannot, for example, tie Sonos tunes into a whole-house scene.
What Took so Long?
Unlike Philips, which had to add UPnP support to its Pronto scripting, program, UEI has supported the standard for a few years, when it introduced NevoSL remote.
And it wasn’t particularly tricky to figure out the commands to control Sonos, Kuipers says. “The [UPnP] devices are all exposed, but Sonos doesn’t tell you how to control them.”
What took UEI so long to create a Sonos driver had more to do with the architecture of its remote controls and programming software.
Previously, UEI did not offer a way for users to download small updates into their products. But if a company like Sonos – which does not warn “partners” of product updates and changes – alters some code here and there without notice, then it would be tricky for Nevo users to adjust their system.
“You could upgrade the programming tool,” says Kuipers, “but to release a new software package just to change a Sonos command didn’t make sense.”
The new Nevo Studio Pro 3.0 accommodates small, quick changes by allowing “plug-ins” of single “files” (or drivers, as we know them) that can be modified without having to recompile an entire system.
“We did not have that feature before,” Kuipers says. “If Sonos changes a single file, we can update that.”
In addition, with Studio Pro 3.0, UEI offers a new scripting tool.
“A lot of people were talking about scripting, like ProntoScript,” Kuipers says. “So we created visual scripting, where you can draw your two-way control.”
The tool enables users to draw the connections from device to device, and Studio Pro 3.0 automatically creates the appropriate commands.