Roku unveils whole home entertainment licensing programme

Roku will be updating existing devices with its own voice assistant

Roku Connect will allow soundbars, smart speakers, and other devices to connect wirelessly and work together as a unified home entertainment system.

Given Roku has pretty much gone as far as it now can with its streaming devices buy supporting 4K and HDR, it makes sense for the company to try and make inroads into the smart home audio world, particularly as numerous services now on offer tend to be proprietary systems that don't play nice with gadgets and devices from other manufacturers. TCL, which already markets Roku TVs, will announce the first Roku Connect device at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show on January 8.

Lastly, Roku has said it will create and dispatch a voice colleague by the fall of 2018, one that will be taken off as a free programming refresh to existing Roku TVs and streaming media players. If you tell Roku to "play jazz in the living room", the assistant will be able to work out which device to turn on.

Roku is the most popular streaming device in the US, beating out competing hardware from tech giants Apple, Amazon and Google, according to Parks Associates.

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In addition, Roku is also working with consumer electronics companies to make Roku-powered smart speakers.

The Roku Connect platform is now being offered to hardware manufacturers for use in upcoming devices.

Roku said TCL, its lead manufacturing partner, will announce a device under the licensing program Monday. Keep in mind it's separate from the voice control setup Roku already uses. Its third-party partners would build speakers and audio systems to connect to Roku Connect ecosystem. Voice controls may help it play a bit of catch-up in the space.

The extension of the Roku environment, including voice control, is undoubtedly being watched closely by pay TV operators, including Comcast, that are trying to develop comprehensive, whole home voice-controlled solutions like X1 to distance themselves from over-the-top competitors like Roku.

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Roku plans to roll out a digital voice assistant this year, expanding its presence in homes and thrusting the video-streaming company into deeper competition with and Google. Now, there are nine TV brands offering Roku TVs, with Magnavox being the latest (and part of Roku's CES 2018 announcements).

Following inception of its licensing program, total eight TV brands began rolling out Roku TVs in the North American region.

Roku said that TCL is the main brand that will have a gadget under Roku's new diversion licensing program, however it declined to share precisely what sort of device this will be in front of CES.

Google, Amazon and Apple all offer streaming-video boxes that connect with their respective voice assistants, but Roku has hung on to a large wedge of market share.

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