Unmonday wants to shape the future of wireless audio
Competition in the audio market is fierce, but Finnish startup Unmonday believes success lies in taking the unconventional route in design and functionality. The company is behind the world’s first wireless multi-channel speaker with a unique control system.
The hexagon shape of Unmonday’s wireless speaker, ‘Unmonday Model 4.3’, catches your eye. It is a stylish portable device with a handmade vitro porcelain enclosure and canvas grill designed to fit any room in the house. But the real secret to the shape lies in its clever motion-based control method: the user can turn the speaker onto different sides to toggle between different modes or tilt it upside down to mute it.
“Starting from the materials, we have wanted to do things in a slightly different way. The speaker is ceramic and a hexagon which means it also has six audio channels,” explains Jukka Illi, CEO of Unmonday. “The built-in motion sensor detects when the speaker is turned from one side to another and changes its mode…If you have two speakers and rotate one to the right and one to the left, they will start to stream stereo sound. It is a very intuitive control system which no one else offers.”
Furthermore up to five Unmonday speakers can be wirelessly connected to fill the house with Hi-Fi sound or to create different speaker groups for various rooms. When you are on the move, the speaker lasts up to 8 hours on an internal battery and it repairs automatically with your home speakers when you return. No fighting with wires or complex set ups.
Second generation on the way
The simplicity and versatility of Unmonday’s speakers stem from the company’s founder Jarkko Jämsén. Back in 2011, Jämsén could not find an audio system for his home which combined stylish design and multi-use scenarios with wireless operation and great sound quality. As a partner in a design company, he decided to solve the problem by creating one himself and in December 2013 the Unmonday Model 4.3 was launched as the first wireless multi-channel speaker in the world.
“Most of our competitors have focused on speakers as single, separate units,” says Illi. “There are some companies which can already do similar [sound system] things, but they don’t offer the same easy-of-use and in sound and component quality we rate very well.”
It is an exciting time for the Helsinki-based startup as an updated version of its speaker, ‘Unmonday 4.3. Vol II’, will hit store shelves in October.
It will be manufactured in Finland like its predecessor, but where the original Unmonday speaker works with Apple Airplay and Wi-Fi, the new speaker adds support for Bluetooth, Spotify Connect and Internet Radio making it compatible practically with any smartphone or tablet available. As the speaker itself is only equipped with a power button, Unmonday is also launching new smartphone apps to offer users more control over their listening experience.
Despite all the updates, Unmonday will keep the speaker’s distinctive design intact:
“We haven’t used any cheap gluing techniques, instead the speaker has been built in a way that it can be completely disassembled in five minutes if you know what you are doing,” says Illi. “If something was to happen, all the main components can be changed so our speakers offer a very long life cycle.”
For most of the year Unmonday has been deep in product development mode thanks to the closure of a 1.5 million-euro funding round in December. But with the Unmonday 4.3 Vol II launch looming its three member team is shifting focus to sales and marketing.
With the Unmonday speaker already globally available from the company’s online store and through resellers in the UK, Italy, France and Finland, the startup’s major aim is to grow its reseller network. The company is first targeting design and audio conscious consumers in Europe with expansion plans to the US following closely behind.
Entering a highly competitive market is a major push for any small company, but Unmonday believes its unique product and unconventional design approach will help it stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, the market appears to moving on its favour:
“A few years ago wireless speakers were considered only for travel use, but now the mindset is changing,” Illi says. “All protocols, applications and audio quality start to be on such a level that even if you have very demanding taste, you can seriously consider a wireless audio system as the main sound system in your home.”
The premium audio market has never been more competitive, but with the launch of the Unmonday 4.3. Vol II it also has a new competitor unlike any other.
Text: Eeva Haaramo