Roku is a top dog in the streaming video world. The Roku device excels at bringing high-quality video to users in an easy-to-use package. But now the company is looking to branch out into the digital assistant and smart speaker realms.
Ahead of CES 2018, the company announced plans to put out new home entertainment devices. These include its new wireless audio platform, Roku Concert, and its own digital assistant, dubbed the Roku Entertainment Assistant.
Roku Entertainment Assistant
The introduction of the Roku digital assistant will essentially allow users to say things like, “Roku, play alternative music,” and the proper connect-enabled soundbar will play the music even when the TV is off.
The Entertainment Assistant will be attached to devices that run Roku OS. This means if there is Roku TV or box within the home then users have access to the Roku digital assistant. The company plans to initially focus on entertainment, which means the feature will not compete with the likes of Alexa or Siri.
Roku plans to release the service in fall 2018 in a free software update to Roku TV and other Roku players. Users will be able to access the Entertainment Assistant through a Roku remote or the company’s app.
Meanwhile, Roku is also working on a new wireless audio platform dubbed Roku Concert. Instead of building a smart speaker the streaming entertainment company is creating an audio platform that other companies can use.
The concert service is essentially the streaming company’s way to connect a bunch of different devices that contribute to the home-entertainment experience. Roku isn’t in the market for creating the devices themselves but is rather making the service which it then will license to third-parties. The goal here is to make it easier for consumers to put together their own theater system, with speakers spread throughout their home.
Roku will not be charging hardware companies any licensing fees, so there isn’t much in the way of companies supporting the service. According to Engadget, Roku is hoping Sonos will adopt the concert technology, much like how it now supports Spotify Connect.
When Will These Services Arrive?
Both the Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant are expected to roll out as a free software update to existing Roku TVs and Roku streaming devices this fall.
While Roku continues to make its video streaming devices, the company is clearly focusing more on software and digital offerings. TCL, who is Roku's premiere TV partner, will be showcasing its first Roku Connect device at CES next week in Las Vegas.
Expect more products that support Roku Connect later this year leading into 2019.