Culture / Machine Learning

Bose Building Machine Learning Team for New Cloud Music Services

22 Jul 2014 7:40am, by

Bose has a handful of interesting job ads listed on LinkedIn right now that indicate the company is adopting the kind of internal development practices that start-ups and smart companies use to quickly develop and roll out new services for customers. The ads also indicate that Bose is expecting to start offering cloud-based services to users, in addition to its existing hardware products.

The company did not reply to a request for comment about its plans. But the job descriptions offer a few hints about the direction that Bose is going. From the looks of it, the company would like to be smarter about developing cloud-based services, and more of them, and it would like to be able to quickly test and then scale them up to millions of people.

Bose is best known for its speakers and has in recent years added new kinds of audio gear that connects, wirelessly through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as well as via wired connections, to other customer products in order to stream music through the speakers. Now, it appears poised to  add new services to its hardware.

“Our team is establishing a new center of excellence for Machine Learning and Cloud Computation inside Bose’s Research & Advanced Development organization,” most of the ads read.

Bose is looking for a senior software engineer in cloud computing/DevOps who “will be responsible for the architecture, implementation, and scalability of our cloud services.” It sounds like this is a greenfield project given that the person will need to choose the technologies and configure the entire stack, according to the ad. Bose is looking for someone who has experience with MapReduce, Hadoop, Cassandra and Amazon Web Services, among other technologies and services. The company also wants someone who knows how to deploy complex machine-learning algorithms at scale.

Some of those algorithms may be developed by another person Bose is hoping to hire – a music information retrieval specialist. “In this role, you will be responsible for developing machine listening algorithms to extract key metadata features from music tracks, as well as for working with music service and metadata partners to ensure that our product features will work seamlessly with their services,” the ad reads.

This is a curious one. Bose is looking to make contextual music recommendations, identify music similarity, generate playlists and estimate “tempo/intensity.” Most of those capabilities are built into features that are already included in many existing music streaming services, a la Spotify or Pandora. Some Bose products also stream music that users might have stored in iTunes or Windows Media, but even those products have some such features built in. It’s not clear what role the new capabilities would play compared to similar features in the third party services Bose connects to.

Bose is definitely looking to move fast. This software engineer will be expected to have developed a plan for implementing and testing the first version of “(already imagined) feature concepts” within three months, according to the ad.

Bose is also hoping to find a machine learning specialist who will work with some of the other engineers to develop a plan for building a scalable implementation.

There’s also an ad for a senior UX designer for a cloud music service. While this may sound like Bose is developing its own streaming music service, that’s unlikely. Bose doesn’t want to compete with the existing streaming music services because it’s worked hard to be compatible with any and everything out there, letting users pick the services they like best to listen to on their Bose products.

The ad says Bose is looking for someone to lead the design of its “next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products.” When Bose uses the term “streaming music,” it’s talking about connecting its speakers via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to a music source, including a user’s own library or a streaming service like Spotify. It doesn’t use “streaming music” like the rest of the world, which is to describe services that stream music from the Internet.

It’s possible that Bose is looking for ways that it can unify the many sources of music that people listen to in a way that adds value for users. Maybe it wants to figure out how to create playlists from music stored in different places on different services.

Regardless of the end result, Bose appears to want to adopt development practices that will let it experiment and get services out there fast. “We will move quickly and have an immediate and lasting impact on Bose’s streaming music products,” one of the ads says.

Since Bose hasn’t replied to a request for further information, we’re left guessing what it’s up to based on the job descriptions. Whatever it is, it sounds like we can expect to see new kinds of services, based on the cloud, coming from Bose.

Feature image via Flickr Creative Commons

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