Roku has made a move to defend itself from the rise of Voice Assistants everywhere, enhancing its Roku Connect and operating system and announcing its own Roku Entertainment Assistant, a voice system for smart speakers.
Its vision for voice seems to be to continue to have a viable option purely for entertainment, rather than the grander vision of Amazon’s Alexa to extend voice control to every device in the home.
Its vision is really about controlling what comes out of smart speakers, the TV and sound bars connected to the TV, using voice. It will show a product from TV partner China’s TCL at CES next week, the first to use this system.
It’s a conservative, low level approach to sustaining its OS as the system of choice for TV markers, outside the traditional top 3 TV makers of Samsung, LG and Sony. And this week it also showed that this approach seems to be working as it signed Japan’s Funai Electric, the company which bought the Philips Magnavox TV brand globally, which will now create a Roku TV reaching the US this spring.
So far voice on a Roku has only been extended to simply program search across the multiple sources of video and music content on a Roku device and this will now be extended to open the door for Smart speakers from its existing partners, with TCL at the fore. Effectively this is a hardware reference design, so TV brands can keep the Smart TV and Sound Bars out of needing to upgrade to Alexa or Google Assistant in order to get in on the voice control revolution. Faultline’s Rethink TV service has just announced a new report which forecasts voice control on the TV for the next five years entitled, “Voice Control of the TV – Decision time for TV operators – Unit Forecast 2017 – 2022.” Details are available from [email protected]