Music Therapy via Sonos Speakers and your wearable may be coming soon

Sonos, makers of popular wireless speakers and home sound systems is exploring a novel approach to generate auto playlists that is synced with mood detection of the listener.

In 2019, Sonos had offered new features via the Sonos Sound Platform that included IFTTT integration.

You can have Sonos start your favorite radio station when your Ring-enabled door unlocks after you get home. Having a party? Set your lights and your music using Phillips Hue. 

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Tech companies are continuing to add new features to their smart speakers. Recent Google Nest Hub added the “Sleep Sensing” technology. Advances in technology now also allow various health metrics to be measured by your smart speaker.

Sonos is looking to expand upon the features that it currently has by incorporating mood-detection into its system.

Music and other media content can significantly affect a user’s emotional state. 

Various attempts have been made to curate playlists of media content that are intended to direct a user’s mood or other mental states (e.g., a mood-lifting playlist intended to raise a user’s spirits, a study playlist intended to increase a user’s concentration, etc.). 

However, the effects of a particular song or other media content may depend greatly on a user’s present emotional state. For example, a user in a current state of severe depression user may be unmoved or even annoyed at hearing a cheerful, upbeat pop song. Also different users react differently to the same music depending upon their emotional state.

For example, one user’s mood may improve markedly upon listening to “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire, while another user’s mood may darken in response to the same song. As a result, it can be useful to monitor a user’s emotional state in real time during playback of media content intended to induce a desired emotional state in a user. 

Current devices are unable to determine in real time the effect the audio playback is having on the user, and thus whether the playback is having the intended effect on the user’s emotional state. Depending on the detected shifts in the user’s emotional state, the playlist may be updated dynamically to achieve the desired gradual shifts in the user’s mood. 

Accordingly, it can be useful to select songs or other media items that affect a user’s mood incrementally or gradually, with each subsequent song intended to shift the user’s mood closer towards a desired emotional state. SONOS Mood detection

Sonos’s approach as highlighted in a recently approved patent “ MOOD DETECTION AND/OR INFLUENCE VIA AUDIO PLAYBACK DEVICES”  aim to mitigate some of these problems associated with mood detection and provide a gateway for a platform that can provide music therapy.

The novel SONOS approach will use a wearable sensor to receive signals indicative of a current emotional state of a user along with a second signal corresponding to a desired emotional state of the user, and based on these parameters from the wearable, generate a playlist of media content including a first item and an nth item. 

In the SONOS design, the idea is to receive the signal indicating current emotional state via a wearable that can process EMG signals, something similar to a MUSE headband.Muse Stress management wearable

The algorithm determines curent mood patterns by leveraging a Valence-arousal plane.

Section 402a corresponds to “excited,” section 402b corresponds to “happy,” section 402c corresponds to “pleased,” section 402d corresponds to “relaxed,” section 402e corresponds to “peaceful,” section 402f corresponds to “calm,” section 402g corresponds to “sleepy,” section 402h corresponds to “bored,” section 402i corresponds to “sad,” section 402j corresponds to “nervous,” section 402k corresponds to “angry,” and section 402l corresponds to “annoyed.” SONOS Mood detection algorithms

While the plane 400 includes 12 sections, in some embodiments the plane 400 can include fewer (e.g., four, five, etc.) or more (e.g., fifteen, twenty, etc.) sections. 

The idea is to monitor your moods using EMG signals from the wearable on a real-time, continuous basis and then adjust the playlists accordingly so that you can be inspired to move to a desired emotional state.

The research was led by Nick D’Amato who used to be the principal engineer for Advanced Technology at Sonos.

Smart speakers have a lot more features coming your way. By combining wearables with smart speakers, companies can truly customize your music and match your moods in the future.


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