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Sonos demoes Alexa control, says more assistants coming

The multiroom music pioneer is starting with Amazon's ​Alexa, but says to expect more AI voice control.

Sonos

Sonos demonstrated Amazon Alexa voice control of its speakers at an event in Boston yesterday.

Antoine Leblond, Sonos vice president of software, walked onstage and said, "Alexa, pause Sonos" to an Amazon Echo Dot speaker, pausing the music playing over the Play:5 speakers lining the room.

Leblond said the company still had some work to do and that it was "important that we get the experience right."

He continued, "We don't really like that it's not simple or natural enough, so we've been working on that, and when this becomes publicly available all you'll have do is say 'Alexa pause' or 'Alexa play music' or something."

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Sonos' Antoine Leblond demonstrates a working version of Alexa voice control.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET


While some competitors have chosen one voice assistant over another, as Raumfeld has with Google, Sonos says it is committed to a brand-agnostic voice control system.

The company is believed to be working on speakers that incorporate a far-field microphone instead of having to rely on separate dongles such as the Alexa Dot which was used at the demonstration.

Sonos' new CEO Patrick Spence said Sonos is "engaged with every major voice player out there today" and wants to treat voice control in the same way it approaches music services -- with broad support.

"In the home there are those multiple people that may not rely on one particular voice service but instead multiple ones and we think that's very, very important," Spence said.

The onstage demo was of an internal build, Leblond said, and Sonos was unable to commit to a definite time frame for the public release beyond simply "2017."

At an event in August 2016 the company said that a public beta would be available in early 2017, but the company hasn't said whether this is still on track.

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