Roku Entertainment Assistant is Roku's media-focused answer to Alexa, Siri

Roku Premiere

They also plan to release their own smart speakers and soundbars which will be able to communicate with existing Roku products.

And finally, Roku has said it will develop and launch a voice assistant by the fall of 2018, one that will be rolled out as a free software update to existing Roku TVs and streaming media players. For example, a Roku TV will be able to connect to a Roku Connect-equipped speakers or soundbars. By expanding the program, Roku will offer technology for smart sound bars and smart speakers.

Unlike its rivals, Roku doesn't plan to create its own speakers and other hardware with its digital assistant - instead, it wants other manufacturers to use Roku's software in their own speakers and devices.

"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 addition to the new licensing program, Roku is following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google and unveiling its own voice assistant, Roku Entertainment Assistant, which will respond to voice commands.

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Licensing of Roku Connect, as with the smart-TV interface, will be an increasing objective for the company.

While Roku's video streaming devices already enable users to give verbal commands, the new system, which will be integrated into software, will enable wireless connections and integrated voice functionality, including of audio. So, they're not meant to offer virtual assistance around web searches, weather updates, pizza deliveries, or anything else Siri and Alexa can do. However, Roku does anticipate that the program will result in a "material increase in the frequency and intensity of the relationships we have with our customers", Mark Ely, vice president of product management for players and whole home at Roku, explained.

Roku said that TCL is the first brand that will have a device under Roku's new entertainment licensing program, though it declined to share exactly what kind of gadget this will be ahead of CES.

Roku's move into the smart speaker market has been speculated for months, and was amplified last November when Roku confirmed the acquisition of Dynastrom, a startup based in Denmark that specializes in high-quality multi-room audio.

Since then, eight TV brands have started selling Roku TVs in North America. Today, Roku says that one out of every five televisions sold is a Roku TV. HD Magnavox Roku TV models are expected to be available from select US retailers this spring. License fees from TV makers are tied into a fast-growing Platforms division at Roku that also includes advertising and subscription revenue sharing.

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