Roku-enabled TVs will soon be able to direct viewers to similar content by detecting what they are currently watching.
By accessing the cable or satellite set-top box or antenna, Roku TVs will recognize what is being watched and then use this to recommend viewing other films or series on streaming sites such as Netflix or Hulu.
While it may seem slightly Orwellian, Roku has ensured that customer privacy will be protected by requiring users to opt-in to the feature and not have it function automatically without their consent. Known as “More Ways to Watch,” it can be turned off at any time; however, Roku has said that information collected will not be deleted.
The new feature will be rolling out across the devices in the next few weeks, with the update expected to be completed before June. Only those in the US will have access to this feature for now, with support coming to standard High Definition TVs first, meaning those with 4K models will have to wait until later this summer for the update to hit them. Older set-top boxes will not have access to the OS 7.6 update, as Roku have discontinued support for any devices sold before May 2011.
As long as this data is not being shared or used by anyone other than Roku, it is a completely legal set-up, as consent is inferred by users having to turn on the feature. The penalty for breaking these regulations is harsh – in February, Vizio paid $2.2 million to the FTC in a settlement, over claims that it allegedly installed software to collect viewing data from around 11 million customers without their permission.