Roku Aims to Broaden its Appeal

Roku is making moves to encourage makers of soundbars, smart speakers, and other audio systems to license its streaming platform and become part of the Roku ecosystem.

In addition to its own set top boxes and various brands of Roku-hip smart TVs, the company has developed a reference design for soundbars that uses the Roku operating system for voice control, searching, and streaming; it works with any HDMI-ARC capable TV.

Roku also unveiled a reference design for smart speakers that enables single- and multiroom configurations to integrate with Roku TVs and boxes. Roku Connect for wireless speakers and the voice-powered Roku Entertainment Assistant — both free software updates to the Roku OS — are under development and expected to roll out this fall.

The Roku Entertainment Assistant will enable consumers to use voice commands to control entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices. For example, customers will be able to say, “Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room” and a smart soundbar with Roku Connect will begin playing music — even if the TV is turned off.

“With an expanded Roku ecosystem, consumers will be able to add great sound to their TVs and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood. “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. And, of course, OEM brands benefit by offering their products in a more appealing way to our already large and engaged audience of millions of active accounts.”

Roku just might become an ecosystem unto itself.