Hands On The Roku Smart Home Camera Channel

In conjunction with Roku launching their line of white-labeled Wyze smart home paraphernalia, the streaming pioneer also released the requisite corresponding set-top “channel” — while it’s not the more holistic approach we were anticipating, the Roku Smart Home Cameras app is certainly good enough as an initial attempt moving in the direction of Apple TV and Fire TV parity.

As one might imagine from the ‘Cameras’ label, this is a video-centric Roku channel. Indeed, upon initial opening, you’re presented with a large live feed, bordered by a tiled listing of all available cameras. The app provides some vary rudimentary capabilities, including re-ordering and toggling feeds, muting video, and disabling all notifications. And, at present, notifications popups during Netflix video streaming (image below) are limited to doorbell rings vs camera motion alerts. Although, I haven’t actually tested that given my limited blogging budget. Roku also provides at least one undocumented feature, as “Hey Roku show me my cameras” jumps from wherever you are into the Smart Home app.

Responsiveness seems solid even though video quality hasn’t been great, yet likely sufficient for many. It’s unclear if this is a function of the Wyze camera firmware or Roku set-top/television software, but it’s early days here and I assume Roku hasn’t been promoting the app for a reason; capabilities are sure to expand and quality to improve over time. Related, the app and the streaming box work together with Roku requiring OS 11 and recommending 11.5. It’s safe to assume this is related to automatic channel installation when a Roku Camera is added to your account and those doorbell video thumbnail overlays.

Click to enlarge:

As mentioned during my pre-release coverage, I’m ultimately hoping for much deeper Roku Smart Home integration. e.g.

Setting the video streaming scene with thematic mood lighting makes total sense and, beyond traditional app or voice control and automation, it’d be quite compelling if Roku streamers directly with the connected lighting to harmonize television content. Something like the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box… but without breaking the bank.

7 thoughts on “Hands On The Roku Smart Home Camera Channel”

  1. A programming note: The media in the post is a mix of Roku Channel marketing imagery and my personal Roku gear. The YouTube video and shot of the Roku Channel informational screen are mine. The header image and doorbell preview are Roku’s.

  2. The notification popup is interesting. I wonder if that functionality could be opened up to third parties (with a requisite permissions/filtering system so the user has some control)?

  3. This isn’t their first overlay/popup rodeo. However, it’s a different presentation with external data. So, yeah, interesting. Given the smart home story and hardware they’re selling, I imagine they’d want to keep this exclusive. If they ultimately give up on Wyze and doing their own thing, I could see them opening up to similar. Wonder if they could repurpose for news alerts and such, from Roku Channel at least if not others as you’re wondering about.

  4. Yeah, my first thought was they’d want to keep it to themselves. News and weather would be good first-party candidates.

    Useful 3rd party (non-diy) stuff could include video call notifications ala Skype* (if they added webcam support too), social media (that could get annoying fast though, so maybe not), and maybe things like pre-scheduled video-channel events (e.g. WWE pay-per-views or MLB/NBA/etc. games for followed teams) would be a good fit.

    And if they really wanted to open the API wide enough that DIYers could get involved, caller-id and other smart home notifications would be cool on the big-screen too (for instance I have hacked together washer/dryer notifications on our TCL GoogleTV).

    *Is that still a thing? :-)

  5. No way will this come to DIYers. :) Also doubt they’d go the video conferencing route, but who knows. Programming alerts, like the breaking news I mentioned or scheduled events like yours seems plausible and advantageous… and certainly more useful than the current advertising popups. Roku is the most interesting these days on the software front.

  6. Being a Roku user (4 TVs) and a Wyze user (5 Cams), any chance this app integrates with Wyze cameras that aren’t Roku branded? Or if Wyze plans on rolling out their own Roku channel?

  7. I was not able to add one of my Wyze Cam v3 to my Roku account. I suspect they’ve each got their own range or QR codes/serial numbers to maintain that distinction. As to Wyze doing their own Roku Channel, I also suspect Roku’s business deal with Wyze prohibits that so they don’t become direct competitors. Although I found it quite curious that Wyze pitched their customer loyalty/affiliate program and free doorbell the same day Roku announced this hardware.

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