Most companies like to wait for a major conference or event to unveil a new product, but Sonos may have gotten scooped by a new set of filings made at the Federal Communications Commission. Documents reveal that Sonos is working on new satellite speakers that could add surround sound capabilities and voice control commands to its popular Playbar soundbar, according to a report from Variety.
The filing, published by the FCC on Monday, December 31, is heavily redacted but still offers enough detail to give us an idea about what is coming down Sonos’ pipeline. The new satellite speakers, labeled with model number S18, appear to have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and is designed to connect with the Playbar soundbar. The document mentions the Playbar as a “master device” and calls the S18 a “wireless smart speaker.” The connectivity between the existing device and upcoming speakers suggests Sonos is working on an expanded home theater set-up.
In addition to serving as satellite speakers, the S18 also appear to use touch controls. The feature would likely be similar to the controls found in the Sonos One speaker and other Sonos devices like the Playbase, Play:5, Beam, and Amp. The feature allows you to swipe with your finger to skip tracks forward or backward, or tap to adjust the volume. The speakers may also include a built-in microphone for far-field voice control.
Assuming the Sonos speakers are as they appear, the improvements would add some longevity to the Playbar. The soundbar was first introduced back in 2013. Earlier this year, the company released the Sonos Beam, which is basically a smaller, cheaper, updated version of its popular soundbar. But for folks who aren’t ready to make the jump to that product, adding satellite speakers will extend the lifespan of the Playbar and owners will also benefit from features found on newer speakers.
Sonos also relies heavily on repeat customers adding to their existing audio ecosystem. The company says that 38 percent of its sales are made to people who already own at least one Sonos product. Allowing people to keep building their sound system rather than having to start over is better for both the company and its customers.
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