Voice-enabled devices that use the Roku Connect system will let consumers use voice commands to play music on a sound bar, smart speaker, multiroom audio system, and surround-sound system. They'll be able to use Roku's platform as a basis for their devices, ensuring full compatibility with the company's new Roku Connect wireless audio software.
Given Roku has pretty much gone as far as it now can with its streaming devices buy supporting 4K and HDR, it makes sense for the company to try and make inroads into the smart home audio world, particularly as numerous services now on offer tend to be proprietary systems that don't play nice with gadgets and devices from other manufacturers.
TCL is expected to be the first brand to license the Roku assistant (it was the first to use the OS for its smart TV), but the company is hoping that more manufacturers will follow suit.
Roku, Inc. primarily operates a TV streaming platform. To start, Roku will be partnering with designers of smart sound bars and speakers. Today, Roku says that one out of every five televisions sold is a Roku TV. (You're not going to order groceries with Roku.) But the idea is similar: people will able to talk to Roku ("Hey Roku") and ask the entertainment system to play a movie, music or anything the device streams. That's obviously possible on nearly every other smart assistant like the Google Assistant, Siri on the Apple TV, Amazon Alexa - but Roku isn't outlining how exactly the company's smart assistant differentiates itself, especially in the entertainment arena.
The streaming media company has not revealed what controls users can avail with new voice assistant. Customers will be able to control them all with one Roku remote and voice commands.
We're sure Roku has more to say about this new program as well as its streaming boxes and smart TV platform, so be sure to keep an eye on our CES coverage.
Roku's voice-activated assistant won't rollout until this Fall as part of a larger software update. The announcement comes four years after Roku unveiled its TV licensing scheme that allows manufacturers to build smart TVs on top of its platform.
From that point forward, eight TV brands have begun offering Roku TVs in North America.
According to The Verge, which spoke to Roku executive Mark Ely, Roku wants to expand its OS and assistant to new devices like speakers, sort of how Amazon allows other companies to build Alexa-powered speakers, because it is "the fastest way to acquire active accounts", even more so than selling media players.