Vizio Bundles Houndify-Powered First Voice Remote With 2021 Smart TVs
Vizio has launched its first voice remote as part of its newly revealed 2022 model year of smart televisions. The remote’s microphone connects to a native voice assistant built on SoundHound’s Houndify platform that relays conversational requests and questions to the TV.
The Vizio Voice Remote looks very similar to earlier Vizio remotes except for the crucial microphone button right below the directional-pad circle. Pushing that button activates the microphone in the remote, which transmits what the TV watcher says by Bluetooth to the smart TV. The unnamed voice assistant processes the request through Houndify to determine what it should do. Along with the standard TV content searches on Vizio’s SmartCast platform, the voice assistant can also be used to check current weather, sports scores, and other local information.
The remote will be included in a couple dozen of the new TVs, specifically the V, M, and P Series of 4K televisions. The Voice Remote is not for sale on its own, only as a package deal with the new televisions. For people with different or older Vizio TVs, the company has updated its SmartCast Mobile iOS and Android apps with Vizio Voice, which can turn a smartphone into a voice-enabled remote control for any TV with SmartCast.
Vizio first announced the Voice Remote at CES in 2020. The plan at the time had been to pair the remote with the 2020 editions of Vizio’s televisions. The pandemic and subsequent major disruption in electronics logistics is the likely culprit, but we’ve reached out to Vizio to find out if there are other explanations for the remote arriving in 2021 instead. Regardless of the reason, Vizio’s voice capability has a lot of competition from new and upgraded remotes tied to other platforms.
Amazon upgraded the Alexa Voice Remote to emphasize the voice assistant and improved Alexa’s ability to find content. Google, meanwhile, is looking to expand Google Assistant’s TV reach with new partnerships with TV makers like FiOS. Then there’s TiVo’s personalization play, in working with Pindrop Solutions to bring vocal recognition technology to its hardware. And Roku came out with a new and improved voice remote of its own in April. The Roku Voice Remote Pro can respond to commands without touching its microphone button.