Instead, Roku will license out its operating system and its smart speaker and smart soundbar hardware reference designs to electronics makers, allowing them to build their own unified home entertainment systems that are powered by the new assistant. The tool will be called Roku Entertainment Assistant, and the intent is for users of its TV and audio platforms to be able to control all of their content through voice commands.
Roku Connect will let soundbars, smart speakers and other devices communicate wirelessly with a Roku-based smart TV or Roku Stick.
"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 enjoy great sound to their TVs and audio around the home in a modern way", Roku CEO Anthony Wood said. But the assistant could be asked to start music on a sound bar in the living room - or speaker in another room - even if the TV is not on by asking, for example, "Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room".
Roku is about to extend the reach of its platform beyond the TV and into many other corners of the home.
Having already tackled 4K and HDR, Roku has come to the realization that there's not a ton of room left to innovate on the video side so it's turning its attention to audio.
Roku captures about 23% of connected-TV users, according to an October report from research firm eMarketer.
Roku Connect is essentially the video company's way of connecting a bunch of different devices that contribute to the home-entertainment experience.
The streaming media company has not revealed what controls users can avail with new voice assistant. Those technology giants offer video-streaming devices, voice assistants and smart speakers.
Following inception of its licensing program, total eight TV brands began rolling out Roku TVs in the North American region. 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. "Roku already has inroads into TV makers, serving as the "smarts" for their smart TVs".
Roku's voice-activated assistant won't rollout until this Fall as part of a larger software update.
While Roku's voice-activated assistant is set to become more capable, its functionality still seems to feature a much narrower scope when compared to major players like Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.