After focusing the core of its business around television software, Roku is now planning an expansion into the home audio market.
Roku has launched a new platform called Roku Connect, which is being billed as a wireless audio platform to give users the power to build their own speaker system. The platform will be licensed to third-party manufacturers of speakers and other audio hardware, similar to how Roku’s television service is integrated into many popular smart TV brands.
Rumors had previously circulated that Roku was planning to build and release their own line of wireless speakers, but at this time the move into the audio market appears to be through the new Roku Connect platform only. To start, Roku will be partnering with designers of smart sound bars and speakers. Users will be able to start playing music from a personal device, including phones and tablets, and then distribute it across the speakers in their homes through Roku Connect.
In addition to the announcement regarding Roku Connect, the company revealed that it is developing its own voice control system, similar to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. The tool will be called Roku Entertainment Assistant, and the intent is for users of its TV and audio platforms to be able to control all of their content through voice commands. For example, a user may be able to tell the Roku Entertainment Assistant to play music by a specific artist through the speakers located in the living room.
More information about the Roku Connect platform is expected to be provided at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in January in Las Vegas. TCL, which is one of Roku’s primary partners in the TV market, will be demoing its first device with integration for the Roku Connect platform. Other electronic companies are expected to adopt the platform quickly, especially since Roku will not be charging licensing fees.