Ikea Collaborates with Sonos to Develop Smart Speakers
Last week Ikea released a promotional video of its new line of smart speakers made in collaboration with Sonos, called Symfonisk which will be available in August. The Symfonisk range of smart speakers was displayed as a non-functional prototype at Ikea’s Democratic Design Days event in Sweden in the Summer of 2018. The collaboration between Sonos and Ikea began in 2016, and Ikea has been developing smart home products since 2015.
Symfonisk Brings High-Quality Sound and Functionality
An initial announcement stating that Ikea and Sonos would be working together was released in December of 2017, although Ikea has stated on its website that Sonos has been a collaboration partner since 2016. The release in 2017 did not give details about what the collaboration would look like. In the Summer 2018 announcement during the Democratic Design Days, Business Leader of Ikea’s Home Smart division, Björn Block, commented on Symfonisk:
Many people dream of built-in sound systems, but few can afford it. Our goal is for our collective work to save space, get rid of cords, make clutter invisible, and bring sound to the home in a more beautiful way.
The Symfonisk Smart Speaker is designed to function as both a smart speaker and a shelf. The prototype included brackets which would allow the speaker to be mounted underneath a piece of furniture, like an Ikea kitchen cabinet. The Wi-Fi speaker is compatible with all Sonos products and also includes Amazon Alexa integration with Google Assistant integration on the way. No price range for the Symfonisk line was given, however, it is expected to be less expensive than Sonos’ smart speakers which begin at $149. The Symfonisk line will be available after summer in 2019.
Ikea’s Low Prices Make Having a Smart Home Reality for the Everyday Consumer
Ikea has been selling smart home products since 2015, beginning with wireless phone chargers. In the summer of 2017, Ikea began selling its own smart lighting products, known as the Tradfri line, which are compatible with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant and introduced a smart home hub to control multiple smart home devices. At CES 2019, Ikea announced two models of smart blinds, called the Frytur and the Kadrilj. The Kadrilj is a set of regular gray blinds, and the Fyrtur is a set of blackout shades.
Prices for the models of smart blinds begin at $113 which is much lower than other comparable products on the market, which run between $300 and $500 on average. The low cost to entry is one of the biggest advantages Ikea has over other smart home product lines. Ikea is making the smart home affordable, and therefore a reality for the average consumer. This is possible because of Ikea’s approach to the design of its products. For example, a simpler approach was taken to the design of the smart shades by including a removable and rechargeable battery pack inside the shade. Ikea has even thought to make the system compatible with the existing Ikea curtain rails, Vidga. By being able to add a battery pack with a sensor, users are able to upgrade otherwise outdated curtain rods. Users will be able to activate the shades with voice commands through Alexa, HomeKit, Google Assistant, and an included remote. As Brian Barrett wrote in a Wired piece discussing Ikea’s Smart Home ventures in 2017, “If the smart home, in general, has a chance of mass appeal, it needs as much interoperability as possible. And that’s exactly what Ikea’s selling.”