Sonos Consumer Electronics Platform – Tom Cullen, co-founder of Sonos, felt that the phenomenon of IP communications in the workplace – his previous experience – would soon invade the home. He and his founders wanted to create a quality networked home music system. Cullen said “We wanted it to be like grabbing a CD off the shelf and popping it into a player. It had to be that easy.” And it now is, though expensive. You plug in the product, it gets online, and two minutes later you can listen to music stored on your media server or from Pandora, Spotify, etc. Cullen stores his own audio files as 320kbps MP3s, but you can use higher-res formats if you wish, keeping in mind they take more hard drive space. Now Sonos has a new S5 boombox-style device which digitally controls the output from different parts of its speakers. The speaker profiles can be changed via a DSP program that tweaks the settings. Although the home has been their focus so far, Sonos says they will eventually explore other places people listen to their music, such as in cars or on headphones. They seek to maximize their involvement in the $15 billion home audio market.
Ambient Surround Immersive Experience – While 3D images are getting all the attention today, a new app-maker demonstrated their 3D audio theater at the recent MacWorld in San Francisco. Naturespace feels their three-dimensional audio provides an immersive relaxation experience and they demo it via their free app that has six tracks of nature sounds for headphone listening on your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or computer. Tracks include rainforest sounds, rainfall, surf, and howling wolves, and are delivered as 320 kbps AAC files to software supporting M4A files, such as iTunes. While they work with any headphones, Naturespace recommends the Grado SR-80 over the ear phones as the best for the money, and Monster’s ear buds if using the specially-optimized program they furnish for ear bud playback. If you want more, Naturespace has an additional 80 tracks as in-app purchases ranging from $1 to $3 each. Their site offers some immersive nature images and sounds even without headphones. www.naturespace.com
What Consumer Electronics Must Do to Make 3D a Success – The Mashable site has an interesting article on the obstacles to 3D acceptance and how companies could solve them. Though 3D has vastly improved since the days of cardboard anaglyph glasses and B movies, but it has a way to go before even the early adopters are rushing to purchase 3D sets and glasses. They identify the problems as manufacturers not realizing that the demand for 3D is directly related to the amount of 3D content available, and so far there’s not much. The consumer has to feel he’s missing out on something before buying. Many makers concentrate on being first with new 3D devices and lack supporting products. There is also a perceived lack of device compatibility – different 3D systems and different glasses; there’s almost the feeling of a “format war,” which doesn’t help sales. Solutions suggested are a user-friendly and affordable 3D platform, makers should view their 3D lines not as profitable for this year, but as a solid investment in the next five. They should do more product placement at retailers, and solve the programming issues. They liked Panasonic being one of the first to offer customers the ability to create their own 3D content. And makers should update their current products for compatibility – decide on one universal system; never mind that the 3D specs allow for different technical means to realize 3D. For example, make either polarized or shutter glasses the standard, not different ones for different brands.