It looks like Roku has plans to join tech giants Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung in the voice-activated assistant race.
The streaming platform company has announced plans to add a new voice-controlled digital assistant to its streaming TV devices. Roku device’s current voice controls are limited to performing simple search requests and launching apps.
The company’s updated assistant will be capable of handling broader requests, including playing video, music and other tasks related to entertainment, though specifics still haven’t been revealed.
“When launched, the Roku Entertainment Assistant will enable consumers to use voice commands to enjoy entertainment on voice-supported Roku devices,” said the company in a recent press release. “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.”
Along with the Roku Entertainment Assistant, the company also plans to launch Roku Connect, a platform that allows disparate home-entertainment devices to connect under a unified umbrella. Roku doesn’t plan on manufacturing specific devices that support Roku Connect, such as surround sound receivers and sound bars, and is instead leaving integration of the functionality up to third-party manufacturers.
The company isn’t new to licensing efforts either, with Roku launching a smart TV licensing platform just a few years ago.
While Roku’s voice-activated assistant is set to become more capable, its functionality still seems to feature a much narrower scope when compared to major players like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. In terms of a direct comparison, Roku’s plans for a more capable voice-activated assistant seem to fall in line with Samsung’s Bixby — a digital assistant that is primarily capable of navigating between different apps.
Roku’s voice-activated assistant won’t rollout until this Fall as part of a larger software update.