"When launched, the Roku Entertainment Assistant will enable consumers to use voice commands to enjoy entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices", said the company in a recent press release. In addition to the full Roku OS, which will be embedded into Smart Soundbars and Smart Speakers, Roku will also offer "Roku Connect" to wireless speaker makers who want their products to work within the Roku whole home ecosystem. It will show a product from TV partner China's TCL at CES next week, the first to use this system.
Along with the Roku Entertainment Assistant, the company also plans to launch Roku Connect, a platform that allows disparate home-entertainment devices to connect under a unified umbrella. For example, a user may be able to tell the Roku Entertainment Assistant to play music by a specific artist through the speakers located in the living room. That paves the way for whole-home audio on Roku's platform.
How strong the artificial intelligence becomes in Roku's assistant remains to be seen. Today, Roku says that one out of every five televisions sold is a Roku TV.
Roku said TCL, its lead manufacturing partner, will announce a device under the licensing program Monday. Once it arrives, customers will be able to use it in a way similar to other voice assistants by using the hot words "Hey Roku".
Roku Connect is essentially the video company's way of connecting a bunch of different devices that contribute to the home-entertainment experience. Roku devices have had voice search for some time, but they've been limited to looking for content rather than controlling devices or getting additional information. Now, there are nine TV brands offering Roku TVs, with Magnavox being the latest (and part of Roku's CES 2018 announcements).
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The company, which sells streaming television devices and connected TV sets, is planning to introduce a line of Roku-branded home entertainment devices, including smart speakers and other audio systems.
Roku said its licensing deals are not exclusive, so if manufacturers wanted to, they could also include rival services such as Alexa in the same product as Roku Entertainment Assistant.
Following inception of its licensing program, total eight TV brands began rolling out Roku TVs in the North American region.
The free software update for the Roku OS is expected to roll out this fall.