Roku extends tech into home entertainment sound

Roku Premiere
Licensing its software to speaker manufacturers will allow them to work within the Roku operating environment. (Image: Roku)

Roku is aiming to extend its technology beyond the television set and into the entire home entertainment system.

Ahead of CES in Las Vegas next week, the company announced a plan to license its new Roku Connect software to OEM makers of soundbars and smart speakers. This will allow these devices to work within the Roku operating environment, controlled by voice commands or a single remote. 

OEM brands will be able to license smart sound and star speaker hardware reference designs along with the Roku operating system, Roku OS. TCL is the first OEM partner to be announced under the new “Roku Whole Home Entertainment Licensing Program.” 

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Roku also announced the debut of a new voice assistant, which is designed to work across devices, allowing users to bark commands like, “Hey Roku, play jazz in the living room.” 

Roku began licensing its software to TV manufacturers four years ago. It also just announced that Magnavox has become the ninth smart TV maker to sign onto the OEM program.

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. 

“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 add great sound to their TVs, and audio around the whole home in a modern way,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a statement.