Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment | Audio/Video

Roku on Wednesday introduced new software program and a licensing settlement for OEMs to develop sensible audio system, soundbars and multiroom audio programs that can permit clients to regulate their home leisure gadgets with easy voice instructions.

The company additionally launched Roku Entertainment Assistant, a brand new sensible speaker know-how that permits clients to make use of voice instructions on supported Roku-enabled gadgets.

Roku has entered an settlement with TCL, its predominant know-how associate, to roll out the primary system underneath the brand new home leisure partnership. The corporations plan to unveil that preliminary system subsequent week at CES.

“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 stated.

Four-Pronged System

The company first unveiled its licensing program 4 years in the past, permitting OEMs to develop televisions and different merchandise that labored with the Roku streaming gadgets.

OEMs will have the ability to select from 4 completely different choices:

  • a Roku TV powered by the Roku OS, and up to date with the Roku Connect and Roku Entertainment Assistant within the fall;
  • a sensible soundbar that works with any tv that has an HDMI ARC;
  • a sensible speaker that operates as a standalone system or extends current system audio to a multiroom expertise; and
  • Roku Connect, which permits OEMs to construct gadgets that reach wirelessly to Roku OS or Roku Connect gadgets.

Roku TVs account for one out of each 5 sensible TVs offered within the U.S. throughout the first 9 months of 2017, the company stated. Roku and Funai Electric additionally introduced that Magnavox has develop into its ninth OEM associate, with plans for a brand new sensible Roku TV this spring.

Funai is the unique licensee for Magnavox and Philips client televisions and home video merchandise within the North American market. Roku already has a TV licensing settlement with the Philips model.

Crowded Field

The Roku OEM announcement additional complicates an more and more crowded market for voice managed sensible audio system, which up to now has been dominated by Amazon Echo and different gadgets utilizing the Alexa voice management system, adopted by Google Home gadgets.

Apple final summer season introduced plans for a excessive finish sensible speaker, known as the “HomePod,” however stated late final 12 months that the release date for the system could be delayed till after the brand new 12 months. The company didn’t present a purpose for the delay.

The Roku announcement isn’t prone to have a big impact on the general sensible speaker market, nevertheless it may give the company some extra leverage in opposition to different gamers within the streaming video area.

“I don’t think [Roku is] a threat at all,” stated Adam Marchick, CEO of

“Amazon Prime and Netflix will be very happy to tap into Roku connect voice controls,” he advised TechNewsWorld.

While Alexa is broadly used all through the business, Marchick can see a state of affairs wherein Netflix develops voice recognition search capabilities utilizing LEX and places that on prime of Roku know-how.

Roku in all probability would like the aptitude be constructed on prime of its personal API, however the taking part in discipline is large open, he stated, and new partnership bulletins within the space seemingly can be forthcoming at CES.

Alexa and Google Rule

“Being able to control a device by voice is already being used by Comcast and other remote controls,” famous Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

The Nvidia Shield streaming field already has Google Voice controls, he advised TechNewsWorld.

There could also be a chance for extra client gadgets that use speech recognition know-how on the entrance finish, urged Paul Teich, additionally a principal analyst at Tirias.

However, it could be tough to make a giant dent into Amazon or Google’s market place, he advised TechNewsWorld.

“Roku will need to pass voice through to Alexa and Google Home APIs to be successful,” Teich stated. “Roku is simply not gathering speech recognition or context-sensitive usage data on the scale of the other two services, and it can’t lead on anywhere near the level of Amazon or Google’s domain expertise for shopping, maps, search, etc.”

“The Roku deal is interesting, but it is unlikely to significantly alter the balance of power in the streaming video market,” stated Tim Mulligan, senior analyst at Midia Research.

“Voice is still a nascent technology — yet Amazon’s Echo product is already significantly benefiting from enhanced brand awareness and the network effect of being part of the Amazon ecosystem,” he advised TechNewsWorld. “For these reasons, Amazon is best capitalized to make voice work as a consumer proposition in the streaming video market place.”

David Jones is a contract author primarily based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

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