Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa might show up in a lot of new devices soon.
That’s because the online retail giant has decided to open up what amounts to Alexa’s ears, her 7-Mic Voice Processing Technology, to third party hardware makers who want to build the digital brain into their devices. The new development kit also includes access to Amazon’s proprietary software for wake word recognition, beamforming, noise reduction, and echo cancellation as well as reference client software for local device control and communication with the Alexa Voice Service.
The move will make it easier and less expensive for hardware makers to build Alexa into their products.
“Since the introduction of Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, device makers have been asking us to provide the technology and tools to enable a far-field Alexa experience for their products,” said Priya Abani, director of Amazon Alexa said in a statement. “With this new reference solution, developers can design products with the same unique 7-mic circular array, beamforming technology, and voice processing software that have made Amazon Echo so popular with customers. It’s never been easier for device makers to integrate Alexa and offer their customers world-class voice experiences.”
Amazon said the new development kit will be invitation only. Device makers can sign up here for an invite and to learn more about the technology.
A similar decision in 2015 to give developers the opportunity to build new capabilities for Alexa through the Alexa Skills Kit helped push Amazon into the early lead in the competitive voice assistant market. Developers who want to add to Alexa’s abilities can write code that works with Alexa in the cloud, letting the smart assistant do the heavy lifting of understanding and deciphering spoken commands.
Alexa reached a milestone of 10,000 skills back in February, and it has surely added many more since. That’s up from 7,000 in January; from 5,400 in December; from 3,000 in September; and from 1,000 in June. That’s a 10X increase since June.