In its early years, Roku was known for making some of the best streaming boxes around, before integrating its technology into a platform that could power smart TVs. Now the company is expanding its reach even more with Roku Connect, a platform for TVs, speakers, and soundbars that includes the voice-powered Roku Entertainment Assistant.
This new platform will let the company’s partners — like those who are already manufacturing Roku-branded TVs — offer products that work together as an entire home entertainment network. Not only will this allow for multiroom streaming, but all the different products will be controlled by a single remote or voice commands. Users will be able to use phrases like “Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room” to play music through a Roku Connect-enabled soundbar, even if the TV is turned off.
While Roku Connect and the voice assistant will be offered in smart TVs, smart soundbars, and smart speakers, they aren’t limited to new hardware. Both Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant will be rolled out as a free software update planned to launch by this fall. While specific model names have not been mentioned, the announcement states that this free software update will be available on most Roku TV models and streaming boxes.
“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 their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” Roku CEO Anthony Wood said in a statement. “Consumers will love the benefits of a home entertainment network, such as having more affordable options, adding one device at a time, using their voice, having a simplified set up and Wi-Fi connectivity, and holding just one remote control.”
While there are plenty of multiroom streaming options out there, Roku’s is certainly one to watch. Four years ago, the company launched its licensing program for manufacturers to build Roku functionality into their TVs. Now the company says that one out of every five smart TVs sold in the United States in the first 9 months of 2017 was a Roku TV model. Yet another partner has joined on as well: Magnavox plans to bring new smart TVs using the company’s tech to market this spring.
We’re sure Roku has more to say about this new program as well as its streaming boxes and smart TV platform, so be sure to keep an eye on our CES coverage.