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Back to the Future of Audio: the Sound IOT

By Savannah Peterson

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the car after you’ve parked, listening to the end of a great song? Or, have you walked in the front door amidst your own silent disco? I caught myself in the act of a parked car listening to music yesterday, as I do on a regular basis. Upon entering my home, the single blue tooth speaker paired to my spotify limited my dancing radius to the living room. This bummed me out, serving as yet another example of how IOT is still largely as cliquey and exclusive as a junior high playground. Refreshingly, Sound United is trying to change that with their wireless speaker systems.

Photo from Sound United

Photo from Sound United

Sound is the foundation for ambiance. Connected audio systems that optimize music in your home without limiting you to specific rooms that are truly a part of a greater network of “things,” can elevate your ambiance to new volumes.

Sound United has been savvy enough to put you, the listener, first over developing a closed ecosystem. The company is built by audiophiles for audiophiles and has been around for 43 years, “Vision without execution is just hallucination,” a quote historically attributed to Thomas Edison, happens to be how Michael DiTullo of sound united started off our conversation about the current state of IOT. It was a beautiful San Diego morning, the kind that makes you want to ditch the devices and go surfing. I wanted to know more about Sound United’s wireless speakers, and get Michael’s opinion on the current state of IOT.

I asked Michael: “what role is audio playing in IOT and what will that mean in 5-10 years?”

He was quick to respond: “the ‘smart home’ is still scary to people, because they fear that their house can be hacked. If you ask people if they want wifi connected speakers however, everyone does - they’re not scary at all. We have the opportunity to make people feel more comfortable about their smart home’ through speakers. Our speakers can also act as the notes in the ‘smart home’ landscapes of the future.”

Sound United’s vision is much bigger than the speakers they create, and their passion for music is inspiring. As Michael reminded me, “music predates the spoken word. We are willing to bring this technology into every room.” They too understand the value and outright platform necessity of only working on open platforms. The speakers do not siphon off the rest of your IOT, rather they augment it and your life.

After making me rethink my disconnected discord of bluetooth speakers I’ve collected over the years, I asked Michael five rapid-fire questions.

1) Savannah: What was your favorite gadget as a kid?

Michael: “Sony Sports Walkman. The yellow one. I thought I was badass. I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t play an instrument…”

2) Savannah: “But at least you had your Walkman! Man, I remember mine well too. What technology did you think would have arrived by now, but hasn’t”

Michael: “I’m surprised there’s not a universal ‘smart home’ platform that people can code on. Conversely, I’m shocked cable TV is still around.” *Note from Savannah: Speaking of Converse, Michael used to be the Design Director there.

3) Savannah: “Where will the ‘smart home’ be in 10 years?

Michael: “Mass adoption. Everything will be able to talk to itself. Set up is the main frustration now - we can get to a universal setup language.”

4) Savannah: “Who would you like to ask for ‘smart home’ advice?”

Michael: “Nikolai Tesla on the vision and Thomas Edison on the technical.”

5) Savannah: “Wow, killer picks. What should never be ‘smart?’”

Michael: “The toilet? I want to control when and how things are ‘smart.’ We will want data in brief bursts, privately.”

I agreed with Michael that the loo can remain analog for some time, though past trips to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show have shown me glimpses into a future that indicates otherwise. What do you think about the future of IOT? How important is music to you and what role does it play in your life? Be sure and check out Sound United, Polk Speakers and Michael on Instagram.

Earlier Event: October 7
The Connected (and Opinionated) Home
Later Event: December 22
To Speed up Innovation, Slow Down