More than six years after Amazon introduced its first Echo speaker, Roku is finally releasing its own entertainment product with hands-free voice controls.
But instead of building a smart speaker, Roku is adding “Hey Roku” voice commands to one of its remotes. With the Roku Voice Remote Pro, users can ask to launch apps, play specific videos, listen to music, control playback, or turn off the TV. The remote costs $30 on its own, and Roku hasn’t announced any plans to bundle it with its current line of streaming players.
The announcement—one of several that the company is making today—is vintage Roku. The giant of streaming video believes devoutly in incrementalism, so while Amazon and Google have been selling millions of smart speakers that integrate with their respective Fire TV and Chromecast streaming platforms, Roku has hung back and waited for its own voice technology to improve. Even now, the company seems uncertain about whether people will love the idea.