5 years after launching the number one selling Playbar, Sonos has evolved the home theater again with a powerful yet affordable voice enabled soundbar.
The hub of the home
As the Lead UX designer I worked with PM, ID, Dev and Engineering to deliver an exceptional user experience in not only the home theater but in the hub of our home, the living room.
Areas of focus
App based setup and configuration
Voice control in the home theater
Modular speaker configuration
HDMI, CEC and ARC connectivity
Visual and audio interfaces
Wall and surface mounted scenarios
3.0, 3.1, 5.0 and 5.1 home theater configurations
great technology becomes a great experience
They say that the best UX is invisible. That is what we were able to achieve by upgrading our TV connection from Optical to HDMI. While both cables deliver stellar sound HDMI far surpasses optical when it comes to the breadth and depth of data transfer it supports.
Two way communication
Audio, Video, Control and ID data transfer
Uncompressed surround audio
One way communication
Audio transfer only
Compressed surround audio
By understanding the capabilities of HDMI and it’s features interact with televisions we were able to remove 80-100% of the home theater setup steps.
Ears and mouths
In the current voice landscape speakers and mics are in the same housing and users see them as one thing. In actuality they could not be more different. Input vs output. In the connected home we see inputs and outputs physically far apart but conceptually close. When multiple ears and mouths are in a single room (home theater) users no longer care whats listening and what is talking, they just want to be heard.
In order to deliver a great home theater experience we had to forge a trail through the unexplored voice wilderness of Home Theater. We iterated, prototyped and tested a number of solutions for a world not yet designed for.
But does it work?
In order to account for the number of variables we were designing for we needed a large number of in-lab, in-home and beta testers to drill deep into the problems and identify solutions.
Shipping means details
The 80/20 rule states that the final twenty percent of the work will take eighty percent of the time that is just about right when it comes to shipping Sonos products. The details and corner cases are deep and wide and can upend a project at any point. Successfully launching a product demands close working relationships with many teams and even more people. Working across hardware and software means even more variables and potential for delays.