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Navvo Launches Voice-Controlled Wireless Multiroom Audio System

6/02/2011 04:18:43 PM Eastern
Minnetonka, Minn. - Privately held startup Navvo Group, led by former Best Buy executive Wade Fenn, launched a do-it-yourself wireless multiroom, multizone audio system that uses Android tablets and smartphones as system controllers.

Unlike other wireless multiroom-audio systems, Navvo's Voco system also offers voice control of song selection. To select songs, users speak into an Android device loaded with a free Navvo-provided app downloaded from the Android Market. The app uses Navvo's own voice-control technology, not an Android phone's Google-supplied voice recognition software, to deliver a more integrated experience, said Tom Gotuzzo, senior VP of sales and marketing.

The app also lets users select songs via an Android device's touchscreen.

With a Voco system, up to 10 different sources or songs can be streamed simultaneously around the house via WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ from multiple networked PCs, multiple network attached storage (NAS) drives, and from the Android device itself to up to 10 Voco V-Zone players, which are priced at a suggested $199. A single song can also be transmitted to all V-Zone players in the house.

The players connect to a home's existing audio and home theater systems via HDMI, optical digital cable, and analog RCA cables.

Additional music sources can include USB sticks, USB-connected iPods other than the iPod Touch and iPhone, other-brand USB-connected MP3 players plugged directly into a V-Zone player. Sources also include more than 50,000 free Internet radio stations and podcasts streamed by the Android device through the Navvo-provided app.

Via touchscreen or voice, the app lets users search for music stored on a selected source by title, artist or genre. If users search multiple sources in sequence for a particular artist but come up short, the app lets users search for Internet radio stations with a high propensity for playing that artist, said Gotuzzo. In some cases, the app will find a station currently playing that artist, he noted.

Multiple Android devices can be used simultaneously as controllers in a house to direct different songs to different zones.

For use as music sources, networked PCs and NAS drives must be loaded with Voco software.

Voco V-Zone players are already available through select RadioShack stores, www.radioshack.com, Amazon, www.myvoco.com, and wireless stores specializing in Verizon Wireless service, said Gotuzzo. In wireless stores, where Navvo offers demonstration models, salespeople can use V Zone to step customers up to Android phones, Gotuzzo said.

Future Voco products include a V-Zone player with built-in speakers.
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