9.19.2017

Roku might be building its own smart speaker

It comes as no surprise that another company may be interested in emulating the runaway success of the Amazon Echo, and (to a lesser extent) Google Home. After all, the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Sonos (to name a few) are all pushing or pursuing similar products. But, there’s also the possibility the flurry of vacancies could simply be linked to Roku’s existing line-up.

Some of its streaming devices already boast basic voice controls, which it could be looking to expand. The company’s software can also be found on a range of affordable TVs from TLC and RCA. These sets already collect your viewing data to serve up ads, and bolstering their voice capabilities could be another way for the firm to amass user info. It could also be chasing something akin to the Element Fire TV Edition, which packs support for Amazon’s digital assistant.

Still, Roku’s recent hires do little to hide its newfound obsession with audio. Variety spotted that it’s been busy recruiting individuals with a background in speech recognition. One such person is senior software engineer Jim Cortez, who is tinkering with “voice interfaces” for his employer. Notably, Cortez co-founded Ivee, a startup that produced “home voice assistants” such as the Ivee Voice and Ivee Sleek. And, there’s the fact that Roku has dabbled in audio in the past, courtesy of its failed SoundBridge internet radio player (pictured above).

We reached out to Roku for a comment, but seeing as it didn’t respond to the original report, it’s likely keeping quiet on the matter.

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