Week 11: Paul's Smart home diary

There's more to connected speakers than music
Week 11: Paul's Smart home diary

At Wareable we have quite strict rules as to what qualifies as smart home, connected self tech. Because, technically, any gadget rocking a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio is connected, right?

So we had to set some ground rules when we set up the site as to what connected kit came under our remit and what we'd choose to ignore. Bluetooth speakers, and connected audio speakers in general, were pretty much top of that list.

However, you can't build a smart home from scratch without considering your speaker setup. And, as has been my golden rule the whole way through this process, there's no point installing anything that is likely to become quickly dated. I need kit that will be compatible with the smart home revolution.

Sonos seems the obvious answer. I don't really need to go into the details as to what a Sonos system offers you with regards to multiroom music – you'll find plenty of guides and positive reviews elsewhere on the web.

What I will tell you is that I'm sticking a Play:3 in the dining room, a couple of Play:1s in the kitchen and a Connect to, well, connect my existing Samsung 5.1 system in the living room. I'll also be running my turntable amp into the Connect so I can stream vinyl to all the rooms. Boom. Sonos can do all that. But you already knew that right?

Sonos Play: 3
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What you probably didn't know is that Sonos has quite an active dev community knocking up smart recipes to get more than music out of the speakers. So, while IFTTT connectivity isn't yet officially supported, you still can set up recipes using a small tweak here and there.

For example, misterlab has some neat recipes – 'Pause Sonos when leaving home' and 'E-mails trigger text to speech through Sonos (via DropBox)'. Sure, they're not yet that snappy but I'd expect to see plenty more landing soon.

And you don't actually need official IFTTT support. Using a Harmony remote control, or Alexa, or Samsung SmartThings (which you'll remember is one of my platforms), there's a bunch of stuff you can do already, without officially connecting your Sonos system to the recipe. Things such as turning on specific speakers using voice controls or playing your sports team's tune on match day.

SmartThings is an official partner of Sonos already and it offers speaker control to play or pause your music when certain actions take place in your home, or even play "mood music" based on activity.

For example I could have internet radio turn on when I open the kitchen cupboard that houses my morning coffee mug, or have the weather forecast read to me; or I could make my kitchen speakers blast an alarm if SmartThings tells them that the back door has been opened.

The possibilities, although limited right now, are growing. Future proofing again, you see.

Sonos recognises just how important future proofing is too. Back in March, in a blog post, the company's CEO John MacFarlane said, "We're fans of what Amazon has done with Alexa and the Echo product line. The Echo found a sweet spot in the home and will impact how we navigate music, weather, and many, many other things as developers bring new ideas and more content to the Alexa platform.

"Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we'll invest what's required to bring it to market in a wonderful way. We know the future is one where paid streaming and voice control play significant roles."

Maybe we'll have to readdress how we cover speakers on the site soon. After all, we reviewed Amazon Echo recently. The smart home is ever evolving and the boundaries of connected tech are increasingly blurring.


Week 1: Planning the ultimate smart home
Week 2: Getting started with home networking
Week 3: Deciphering the matrix
Week 4: Burying Ethernet cables
Week 5: Not much happened
Week 6: Things are heating up
Week 7: What smart home platform to use
Week 8: Do I really need a smart washing machine?
Week 9: Smart nursery made simple
Week 10: Lock all the doors, maybe they'll never find us

What do you think?

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