While Roku freely admits their primary business is advertising, given several significant job openings around the world, the company continues to see audio as viable hardware category with a continued emphasis on platform voice control.
The TCL-branded Roku soundbar announced at CES 2018 has reportedly been killed and Roku has taken matters into their own hands given recently released wireless satellite speakers – clever, but ultimately overly complex, a bit pricey compared to a decent Vizio soundbar, and exclusive to Roku TV sets. But that’s clearly just the start as they intend to build out a line of audio products with enhanced voice capabilities. And I wonder if they’d even move beyond television and into the world of Amazon Echo or Sonos connected-speakers for voice-powered, whole-home audio.
A few sample hiring reqs:
Hardware Product Partner Manager, Shenzhen, China
Roku is seeking an experienced Product Partner Manager to provide hardware support to audio projects in Shenzhen, China. […] It is critical to have hardware experience with audio products (wireless speakers, soundbar, etc.).
Sr. Software Engineer – New Products, Audio, Austin, TX
We are looking for a senior software engineer with extensive experience in embedded Linux, system-on-a-chip (SoC) development and integration, and streaming audio technologies.
Snr QA Engineer, Audio, Cambridge UK
Roku is seeking an experienced and versatile Audio Quality Assurance Engineer to test software (OS and Firmware) and audio hardware on our devices for major product releases. […] This position requires a good understanding of sound testing on microphones and speakers;
Senior Machine Learning Engineer, NLU – Conversational AI, Los Gatos, CA
The Conversational AI group is looking for an experienced Machine Learning Engineer to help build NLU (Natural Language Understanding) services. You will use your machine learning expertise to help train our NLU systems and help build next-generation voice assistant experiences.