The Real Industry + Sonos Challenge

This fall Sonos partnered with Real Industry to challenge university students at University of Washington and local Boston area schools to answer the following question: How do we design or build an experience that delivers the right sound, at the right moment, into people’s lives?

We were excited to have the opportunity to work with some great students in two different cities. We understand that an open platform provides the tools to build experiences that we cannot even think of. With this challenge, what better way to tap into the minds of college students! These college students really blew us away with the different ideas and integrations they planned and built. Their enthusiasm is contagious and we left the workshop with some fire in our belly to continue our work on the Sound Platform.

At Sonos, we are aiming to meet with more developers in person to gauge your interest and to make sure you have the opportunity to meet Matt and I. We enjoy engaging with the developer community and we want to make working with the Sound Platform as enjoyable as possible. In the end, we are all here to make some great experiences on Sonos.

The Challenge

Matt and I, along with several Sonos colleagues, were honored to chat to students in these locations about the Sound Platform and the experiences they can build to solve real problems. Many students took on the challenge to answer: “How do we design or build an experience that delivers the right sound, at the right moment, into peoples lives?” While brainstorming in the room, there were many ideas thrown around such as making the morning routine easier and more enjoyable, sharing music when discovering through Sonos, announcing class schedules over Sonos, different party mode features and the list goes on!

We wanted the students to be as creative as possible with their integrations. Not only were we judging their coding expertise, we challenged them to think of the development process as a whole. From ideation and product management to design and research. In the end, all of the students who submitted really impressed us with their innovation and thoughtful thinking.

The Result

Several Sonos colleagues got together to review the submissions at the end of October to determine the winner. We had a lot of interesting submissions that we really enjoyed looking over. We were particularly interested in how well students pitched their ideas to us, explain the problem they were solving and in the end demo what they built.

A few students jumped straight into their integrations, giving us details of what they built and the tools utilized to build it. Where they fell short is they didn’t give us an indication of what problem they were solving or who would benefit from their integration. Although they had some great ideas, the challenge was to build an integration that fit into people’s lives, they fell short on providing some of these details.

Many students jumped straight to interviewing their peers and family members, they thought through the UI and the user flow, these are all great characteristics of a good experience. In the end, their storytelling was much more impactful when presenting their working demo. After considering all of the options, it was a unanimous vote to pick the following teams for their projects. Not only did these students build great experiences, they really thought about the problem they were solving and delivered well.


At Tufts University, a group of three students: Chris Markus, Electrical Engineering, Katie Elliott, Electrical Engineering and Allie Lam, Applied Math/Music Technology created OurSound.

The team took on the challenge of eliminating the awkwardness of picking a song that everyone likes at a party or even in the office. Their app plays the perfect music automatically based on music libraries of everyone in the room and mood filters the host sets to play directly to Sonos. The OurSound team utilized Google’s Flutter SDK, Spotify API and Sonos API to rate danceability, vocality and familiarity to play a playlist for everyone in the room to enjoy. Check out their winning video below:

At University of Washington, a group of 5 students: Xu Yan, Computer Science, Zoe Zou, Master in Science and Technology Innovation, Hal Zhang, Electrical Engineering, Michael Radenbaugh, Electrical Engineering and Padraic Casserly, Technology Innovation, Bio-Chemistry created

As the team stated, “Humming or singing is just a feeling set to music.” By saying the wake word, the artificial intelligence algorithm will listen to your humming, go through the music library in the cloud and play your particular song or a closely matched genre. The team utilized snowboy Hotword Detection, Latent factor analysis system and Sonos API to play music on your speakers. Take a look at their winning video below:

Interested in starting your career at Sonos?

We offer a range of student internships and full-time opportunities. At Sonos, you are empowered to take charge of your own career, applying your education to innovate boldly and collaborate with some of the greatest in the industry. Begin your career at a place where your voice matters in helping us further our mission to listen and live better. Summer intern opportunities will be posted by January 1, 2019. To learn more about life at Sonos, visit us here

Nancy Hernandez – Developer Advocate – Currently listening to Despicable by grandson