I have a love/hate relationship with Sonos. I love the concept of the wireless Internet connected sound system. The logistics of whole home audio with wired speakers is just too much of a burden to pull off. With Sonos I have audio in many rooms including the home theatre (TV) with the Playbar. Though the sound is not as good as my old system it is good enough that I have tossed my old bulky receiver and speakers.
Anyway, for home automation audio to work, you need to hear it, thus it must be integrated with your home automation system. I like the idea of UBI which also includes the “ears” of home automation, yet right now it would compete with a home audio system. Can you hear one over the other?
Thus, like it or not, Sonos is the leader in whole home automation space, in my opinion. There still is an opening for others because of their high price (Apple?). Price or value is the hate part of the relationship. How many can afford Sonos as a whole house audio system?
So how should the whole house audio system be used with home automation?
Sonos can be used as a notification system. Instead or in addition to SMS and push notification, give the option of using the home audio.
When a smoke alarm goes off or moisture is detected, the home automation audio should indicate which room. In this alarm type message, the message should repeat until the alarm condition is cancelled. For example "Smoke in Kitchen, Smoke in Kitchen, …). And the volume needs to be increased to insure recognition. In fact, the home audio system can be used instead of an siren.
In an alarm case, it needs to broadcast to every room. Sonos has a “party mode” feature which may be the solution. And when the alarm or notification is finished, the home audio needs to return to what it was playing at the previous volume level. It can’t leave it in party mode and force the user to select each room audio channel.
For example, in the office, I may have Pandora, the family room home theatre, my wife her play list and other rooms nothing. Audio notifications would not be effective if we had to reconfigure each room after each notification. It should just resume to its previous state.
If there is motion by the front or back door, the home audio can announce which. When away, the dogs need to bark. And it could replace the door bell. Interrupting times when you are playing loud passages avoids missing visiters or deliveries.
Those with presence detection can be announced so those home can drop what they are doing to help unload or greet arrivals.
I have a couple of rooms with Sonos speakers near the ceiling. I would like to use a dimmer switch or minimote to control volume when the speaker (or the phone app) isn’t readily accessible.
In home theatre situation, I would prefer the source paused when a notification so nothing is missed.
When iBeacons or room presence is perfected, the audio needs to follow the individual from room to room if desired.
Reminders or other alarm clock type functions need to be able to use the home audio system. Maybe when your favorite show or sporting event is scheduled, you want it to switch the audio at a specific time. Audio sequences are needed so you can hear the weather and then music, for example.
Notification priority needs to be configurable so major alarms can interrupt minor alarms.
Sonos needs to be tweaked to prioritize some actions over others. It can’t take twenty seconds to go to party mode, for example. However, returning to the previous state quickly is not critical.
These are just some of the needs I see.