Time to ditch Roku? The company wants to serve ads on devices you plug it into

Oh boy! Here we go, Roku owners. According to Engadget, Roku is looking for a way to serve ads to users of its devices, even if they’re not using the device. Roku is looking to patent this technology and it seems like a terrible idea.

Bad Roku

Roku interface

Roku is already serving ads on its interface when you power it on. That seems like fair game, nothing wrong with serving ads, we do it here. But now, the company is looking into serving ads outside its platform on any device that is plugged into the same system the Roku is plugged into.

Lowpass has uncovered a patent filing that shows the company is looking to develop a system or a method “for ad insertion by a display device coupled to a media device via a high-definition media interface (HDMI) connection.”


So that means, the company can insert ads on your Samsung Smart TV and even insert ads on your Apple TV, Chromecast, or any gaming console. These ads would show up on content you are watching when you pause it.

In particular, Roku is hoping to show you commercials while whatever you’re watching or playing on the third-party device attached to it is on pause. In its patent, it described several methods on how it can detect whether the show or game on screen is paused, such as receiving a pause signal from the remote control, detecting a pause icon, looking at several video frames and determining that the image on screen hasn’t changed for some time and getting a silent audio signal from the HDMI connection.


While Engadget goes on to say that “at least the company is looking to serve relevant ads,” I’d say this is a dealbreaker for numerous people. Technology that allows one device to invade another for the purposes of serving advertisements is not encouraging to users.