Sonos Voice Control, the assistant who wants to talk about him safely

Sonos Voice Control, the assistant who wants to talk about him safely

#Sonos #Voice #Control #assistant #talk #safely

To better control its own products in a natural way, Sonos is launching Sonos Voice Control, a voice assistant whose sole mission is to optimize the audio experience at the heart of its product ecosystem. With promises of efficiency, speed and above all confidentiality.

Sonos Voice Control, the assistant who wants to talk about him safely

You are never better served than by yourself. This is the idea that crossed Sonos’ minds a few years ago when the microphone made its official appearance with the Sonos One before taking hold in the Beam and Arc soundbars, then the Move and Roam Bluetooth speakers.

Because the main and sudden interest of this microphone was then to allow users to control their devices by voice thanks to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Enough to also transform these products into a control tower for the connected home, capable of controlling home automation objects. But this is not necessarily to the liking of all users, for fear of their personal data, ignorance or lack of usefulness as well.

A voice aid as a natural reflex

“In doing preliminary studies with consumers, we found that many of them did not naturally use the voice assistant in the vehicle. They did not express a need for it for many purposes or fear that their information would be stolen and misused.”explains to frandroid Sébastien Maury, Director of Voice Experience at Sonos.

So, with his new team made up of former employees of Snips, a Parisian startup acquired by Sonos in 2019 and a specialist in machine learning-powered voice assistance, they looked at the question of voice assistance. really useful“. With the mission of responding to three essential points: speed, precision and confidentiality. So Sonos Voice Control was born, the first voice assistant created by Sonos to control your connected speakers and sound bars.

Sonos Voice Control, the assistant who wants to talk about him safely
Sonos Voice Control even works on Bluetooth speakers like Roam // Source: Sonos

With Sonos, we had the same vision of what voice assistance should be in a connected speaker. adds Sébastien Maury. In charge of the product at Snips at the time, he continued to carry the startup’s voice within the American giant with one wish: the service should be ” private by design », that is, fully embedded in the device to guarantee that the data does not leave it to go to the cloud or to any other platform. All computation is done locally, nothing is leaked.

This is already a reassuring element for many. And in this, Sonos Voice Control stands out over Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. ” They also want to answer all questions and requests. We focus on the audio experience of our devices and the best way to use them. It’s our only goal and we didn’t want to disperse.” summarizes David Leroy, head of machine learning for the Voice experience at Sonos.

Confidentiality at the heart of the process

Sonos Voice Control is therefore presented as a service to add from the Sonos application to compatible devices (including the first generations of Beam or Sonos One), that is, those with an internal microphone. The idea is to be able to use your voice for everything you would have done with the application, including using services like Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, TuneIn…, playing music in the living room or in the kitchen, even both, at the same time. turn down the volume, add songs to your library, and more. Suffice it to say “Hello Sonos” before placing your order. But the result can be applied to all speakers in your audio system.

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Sonos ensures that it will not suddenly be the default voice assistance of its products. Sonos Voice Control will continue to be offered in the same way as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. All of them can even be activated at the same time and used interchangeably. “ We continue to support other wizards, because we chose an open ecosystem and we want to give users the option to use them if they want, whatever they want. says Ted Dworkin, senior vice president of product management and customer experience at Sonos.

Sound and nothing but sound in complete safety

However, at Sonos, we also recognize that the quest to optimize the use ” House ” I was in the center of reflection. The effectiveness of voice assistants from Google and Amazon is well established, but Sonos wanted a real experience focused on audio and a lot of work on data privacy, which remains such a touchy subject.

According to the man behind home speakers, it’s ” a very important point and differentiating itself from the Sonos Voice Control offering. ” Confidentiality issues limit consumers’ willingness to use voice assistance and their trust in a system. Sometimes they are afraid of what will be done with their information, their audio recordings. We wanted to spend time and energy making this transparent to put your mind at ease. The choice of privacy by design is an additional security “, he adds.

Starting from the voice, you will be able to do exactly what you were doing until now with the tips of your fingers. ” We’re going to make voice control great, as natural as possible, intuitive and easy to use every day.“Sums up an ambitious Ted Dworkin to see the feature go mainstream with consumers. However, it was Sonos, aware of the fear of microphones, that launched the Sonos One SL and Beam SL range without a voice assistant…

the mandalorianto serve you

It must be said that Sonos has more than doubled its user base in three years. The arrival of Sonos Move and Sonos Roam Bluetooth mobile speakers, now available in colors, but also products in partnership with Ikea or even the addition of trendy soundbars at different price points (waiting for the even more affordable Sonos Ray, but without microphone). ), are certainly no strangers to the democratization of products. And Sonos wants to see beyond. There has already been the launch of the Sonos Radio streaming service, which has gone HD and is constantly enriched with new artist stations, the latest of which is credited to singer Lorde (SOLARSYSTYM).

And to offer even more appeal to its Sonos Voice Control, the Californian firm has had the luxury of counting on the talent of Giancarlo Esposito to lend his voice to the English version. the actor of the mandalorian was chosen for his voice”comforting and attractive“. A choice that can make you smile when you know that he is also known for his roles as a cold-blooded killer.usual suspectsto the seriesbreaking badYBetter call Saul,even as a bloodthirsty dictator in the video gamefar away 6.

Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian, Breaking Bad) is the English-speaking voice of Sonos Voice Control
Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian, Breaking Bad) is the English voice of Sonos Voice Control // Source: Sonos

Sonos Voice Control will be available June 1 in the United States and later this year in France.

Our Sonos voice control review

We were able to test the French beta version of the Sonos voice assistant, which is basically more of a voice aid than an assistant. here without voice“star”at the moment in the beta version, but a fairly classic and neutral voice. Setting up on a speaker or sound bar is very simple and done the same way as adding Alexa or Google Assistant. You can also use both in parallel without getting confused.

Observation 1: Sonos Voice Control responds very well to celebrities“Hello Sonos”. It may lack a little ring to indicate that it listens to you at the first interjection (instead, you listen to it if it doesn’t understand you well), but it listens to you quickly, even with a little noise around it. Just talk to him naturally and he will understand you perfectly.

His responses are just as natural, too, and Sonos explains that he worked on this during recording. The thousands of sentences captured are processed by machine learning algorithms to offer a representation that is not too“mechanical”. And the result is promising. In English, this is even more evident with the voice of Giancarlo Esposito. If you have his voice in mind, you will have the impression that he speaks to you close.

Sonos wanted its voice control to be quick and efficient in its responses. This is currently mostly the case. It is well understood to request a specific song in a streaming service, such as playing in a specific area of ​​​​the house, raising or lowering the volume, and even switching to night mode.

Not a negligible advantage, it works just as well on Wi-Fi connected speakers as on Bluetooth speakers like the Roam on which we were also able to test it. You must first pair it with your Sonos system via Wi-Fi before you can enjoy it on the go. It is perhaps for the moment the situation where the assistant has been the least reactive in understanding the commands.

Sonos Voice Control, the assistant who wants to talk about him safely
A lit LED on the Sonos Beam means the microphone is on // Source: Frandroid

Sonos Voice Control is already very easy to use. It can even answer a few related questions, like the battery level of your Bluetooth speaker, what’s the name of the song it’s playing, what time is it, and even turn your TV on or off if you have an HDMI-CEC connected soundbar. There is no need to repeat the command.“Hello Sonos”if you follow up on your questions. It understands succession well if it doesn’t take too long (six seconds after first activation).

On the other hand, SVC will not replace Google or Amazon to manage your connected home. Sound control is his only mission. And if you’re wondering what else he can do, well, just…ask him.

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