It's been a rocky few months for Sonos (in June alone the firm faced countersuing charges from Google, announced plans to lay off 12 per cent of its workforce and dealt with customer confusion following its somewhat controversial S2 update) but it seems the Californian audio outfit now has some good news.
It comes in the shape of Sonos' first ever wireless over-ear headphones, which (as first noted by Protocol (opens in new tab)) have recently been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office – and there's even some tantalising info on new tech to consider.
The USPTO patent (opens in new tab) was initially filed on 25th September 2019 but has only recently been granted and it proves that Sonos, a firm better known-for its Sonos Arc and Award-winning Sonos Beam soundbars, multi-room software and smart speakers, is indeed looking to expand into the headphones market.
The patent shows two possible designs, as seen above – both over-ear and wireless, both with oval earcups that are angled slightly so that the lower part sits a little further forward on the wearer. The patent features 16 images in total and – here's the fun bit of tech – also mentions how the headphones could work with existing Sonos speaker setups.
Several of the features mentioned in the filing are now fairly commonplace in the wireless headphone sphere (voice assistant activation control, volume slider, playback controls, mic) but one of the more interesting aspects is how the cans might integrate with existing Sonos speakers, through something the company calls a "swap" in the filing.
The patent reads: "For example, if a particular piece of content play is currently playing on the wireless headphone, a swap changes the playback to play that piece of content on one or more other playback devices on the local network."
This kind of feature could make it easy for users to play music on their headphones while out on a run, then seamlessly shift playback to their Sonos system or Sonos One, say, when they return home.
We'd also expect the new headphones to feature some degree of active noise cancelling, a competitive battery life and USB-C charging, if they are to compete in what is a highly competitive market.
Of course, there's no indication on pricing, a release date, or even whether either of these designs will actually make it to production, but the patent does suggest that Sonos will look to harness its customer base and reward users with features that build on the Sonos kit they currently own. Watch this space...