Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

Roku Inc (ROKU) Plans Its Own Voice Assistant, Shares Surge

Roku Inc (ROKU) Plans Its Own Voice Assistant, Shares Surge

Voice-enabled devices that use the Roku Connect system will let consumers use voice commands to play music on a sound bar, smart speaker, multiroom audio system, and surround-sound system.

Roku is getting into the smart speaker space - building a voice assistant that the company hopes other device makers will adopt and install in their products too.

The initial segment of the news includes smart speakers: Roku will put out reference outlines for both soundbars and WiFi-associated speakers, with the expectations that manufacturers will begin making stuff that will interface straightforwardly to Roku TVs and take into consideration voice control of Roku TV applications. TCL, who is Roku's premiere TV partner, will be showcasing its first Roku Connect device at CES next week in Las Vegas.

The Roku Entertainment Assistant will be a free software update this fall for most Roku TV streaming devices, the company said in a statement Wednesday. 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.

Roku, Inc operates television streaming platform. To start, Roku will be partnering with designers of smart sound bars and speakers.

Roku captures about 23% of connected-TV users, according to an October report from research firm eMarketer.

The company isn't new to licensing efforts either, with Roku launching a smart TV licensing platform just a few years ago.

Roku is also licensing its technology to other companies so they can make audio devices that work on its operating system, expanding on an existing program for TVs.

This is normally the part of the story where you note that Roku, which went public previous year, is going up against much, much, much bigger competitors, who are using home video and audio as a way to extend their reach, not as a full-fledged business.

Since then, eight TV brands have started selling Roku TVs in North America.

The two new platforms are called Roku Connect and the Roku Entertainment Assistant. They have also officially unveiled their very own Roku Entertainment Assistant, or their version of Google Assistant and Alexa, a voice-controlled tech to verbally control Roku OS devices.

The streaming media company has not revealed what controls users can avail with new voice assistant. It also said that Magnavox will be the ninth and newest TV brand to offer Roku TVs, as part of its CES 2018 announcements.

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