Roku, best known for making the most popular media streaming devices in the U.S., announced plans on Wednesday to expand its licensing program to include soundbars and smart speakers, as well as surround sound and multi-room audio systems. Equipment makers also will be able to license smart soundbar and speaker hardware reference designs, as well as the Roku operating system, Roku said. TCL, who is Roku's premiere TV partner, will be showcasing its first Roku Connect device at CES next week in Las Vegas.
The company says its "Roku Entertainment Assistant" will show up this fall as part of a software upgrade.
This means you will be able to play music, start watching something on your TV or your Roku player using a single smart assistant in your home.
Roku is about to extend the reach of its platform beyond the TV and into many other corners of the home.
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And while Roku has supported voice-based search for some time, the company just announced that they're taking their voice support to the next level this year with their very own voice assistant. In the past Roku has emphasised its own neutrality in a world where spats over streaming devices are all too common, and it seems as though Roku Connect won't be changing that.
They are calling this ecosystem Roku Connect and it will be able to connect to Roku devices wirelessly to form a completely wireless home entertainment system. The Roku Entertainment Assistant - which is somewhat of a competitor to Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri - leverages the Roku OS to use your voice to execute media-centric commands and control Roku apps as long as you have a Roku TV or Roku settop box on your home network. Voice controls may help it play a bit of catch-up in the space. Magnavox is the ninth TV maker to create Roku OS connected TVs, and its models will go on sale in the spring. This will allow third-party manufacturers to add the ability to control Roku TVs and streaming devices with their smart speakers without changing much else about their products.
This is normally the part of the story where you note that Roku, which went public previous year, is going up against much, much, much bigger competitors, who are using home video and audio as a way to extend their reach, not as a full-fledged business.
Roku said that TCL is the main brand that will have a gadget under Roku's new diversion licensing program, however it declined to share precisely what sort of device this will be in front of CES.