Navvo Launches Voice-Controlled Wireless Multiroom Audio System


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,

, Amazon,

, 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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