"We've always focused on making it incredibly simple for consumers to find and enjoy streaming entertainment on their TVs, and with an expanded Roku ecosystem, consumers will be able to add great sound to their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way", said Roku CEO Anthony Wood.
With such a platform in place and the Roku Entertainment Assistant on call, Roku has plans to enable all these devices to be controlled through voice commands.
Roku Inc., a popular US-based company that offers a variety of streaming devices for televisions, announced that it is working on its own offering of a artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital voice-based assistant. Further, the Roku Connect technology can be licensed to develop audio systems that work together.
Roku Entertainment Assistant and Roku Connect: How do they work?
I asked Roku executive Mark Ely, who joined the company in September after his startup Simple.TV shut down, why Roku is licensing its OS and putting out reference designs rather than making its own series of low-cost smart speakers, like Amazon does. So, they're not meant to offer virtual assistance around web searches, weather updates, pizza deliveries, or anything else Siri and Alexa can do.
Roku doesn't expect to generate much, if any, licensing revenue from speakers and soundbars.
"We envision a broader Roku ecosystem where the TV is the center of the experience", says Roku vp product management Mark Ely. The new whole home entertainment licensing program will enable OEM brands to build soundbars and smart speakers, surround sound and multi-room audio systems.
In addition to the new licensing program, Roku is following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google and unveiling its own voice assistant, Roku Entertainment Assistant, which will respond to voice commands.
Roku noted that TCL, its "lead OEM partner", will announce plans to offer the first device under the new licensing program at a January 8 press conference at CES.
Since then, eight TV brands have started selling Roku TVs in North America. Roku said Magnavox is becoming the ninth TV manufacturer to license its discovery technology, meaning that one of every five smart TVs sold in the USA features a Roku user interface. As of the end of September 2017, one in five smart TVs sold in the U.S. and Canada were running on Roku's operating system, Roku said, citing third-party research data.
Roku expects the Roku Entertainment Assistant as well as the first batch of devices linked to the new licensing program to appear by the fall of 2018. License fees from TV makers are tied into a fast-growing Platforms division at Roku that also includes advertising and subscription revenue sharing.