Sonos’ Principal Industrial Designer on immersive music listening — and what comes after

Being a part of the exploration team at Sonos, Philippe Vossel is envisioning intriguing futures for the company.
June 26, 2023

Vossel is also part of developing the company’s current major technologies, such as immersive and spatial experiences.

— Normal speakers throw sound straight at you. Here, it lives in the back of the product, to beam sound to the ceiling and the walls which the listener will hear through the reflections. It really sounds like you bring the music stage into your room and allows the creators to play with depth and location in completely new ways.

The current fast-paced technological development, Vossel continues, makes it difficult to predict the next big thing coming.

— It’s so much changing on a weekly basis lately. I think advancements in artificial intelligence, voice recognition, sensor and radio technologies, and special attention to sustainability will shape the future in lots of products and certainly will enable speakers to create personalized and interactive listening experiences. The integration of modern AI systems seems to be the next great contender for making a significant difference. Furthermore, I believe that advancements in connectivity for both personal devices and smart homes will also play an important role.

How have you seen consumer behaviour change over the last few years?

— It seems that consumers take great attention to sustainability and aesthetics in their choices. Especially younger generations seek personalized experiences, seamless technology integration, and adaptable products that are easy to use and provide high-quality experiences.

Vossel and his team were also a key part of developing Sonos’ latest launches, Era 100 and Era 300.

— They’re our step into the future of immersive music listening, he says. When we designed Era 100 we took everything we learned over the years to create a compact but very powerful speaker to fit into all of our customers’ homes. Era 300 is a complete redesign to bring immersive content like dolby atmos to them. It’s unique because it features 5 drivers in the back of the product to throw sound left, right, and even up.

Sonos Era 300.

What’s been the most challenging part when developing the products?

— Era 300 was the hardest challenge I worked on at Sonos and forced us to try dozens of different architectures. The hardest part here is to bring all the parts together in a way that doesn’t feel like a tech Frankenstein. When you look at the details, the front grille pattern has been fine-tuned for over 2 years…, Vossel concludes.