Defining the voice assistant experience with Sonos One

The update of the most selling Sonos speaker was much more than just a re-skin of existing parts. It was the chance to incorporate voice assisted hardware to enable a seamless voice experience – no matter what voice assistant the household wants to use, Sonos One is able to understand you.

This was no small feat with high ambiguity about what voice services would be available and what features on the Sonos side they would support. It was our goal to deliver the highest quality experience that elevated the – at the time – very disappointing Alexa 3rd party experience while improving the hardware as well as the CMF too – which resulted in a product that looked familiar but was packed with innovation while reducing BOM cost.

Voice Assistant

Starting off with Amazons Echo microphone arrays as baseline we designed our own mic array from the ground up to enable a superior hot word detection, especially in loud environments as Sonos One has a much higher volume output than the Echo devices.

The privacy of the user was very important to us and to enable a clear to understand UI for the mic on/off switch we went through 100+ iterations of iconography, sound and light feedback combinations with multiple rounds of user testing.

With discoverability and missing tactile feedback as concern we leveraged heat maps of touch areas on the device to dial in the ideal touch zone sizes and enable a blind usage on high shelves or in deep cabinets.

Goal was to meet or exceed the current Sonos UI experience with buttons and get better over time. Although the swipe gesture for previous/next track was not immediately discovered by most participants, the moment they did (through in app nudge or Sonos ad) they were blown away.

Focus on the details

Every details of Sonos One was carefully considered and improved. We had to develop a new paint system to archive the all white and black color ways with tightly color matched plastic parts to the metal grille while keeping the project within the extremely ambitious timeline and BOM cost targets.

CompanySonosRoleSenior Design Lead Sonos OneYear2016 – 2017Linkwww.sonos.com

Other Projects

Privacy Preference Center