Amazon’s goal of getting Alexa everywhere is taking a step forward today as the retail giant announced two new development kits for third parties to embed the digital brain within their products.
One of those kits focuses on mobile devices such as headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers and more. The Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit enables these products to connect to the Alexa Voice Service, Amazon’s hub for adding Alexa to connected devices, via bluetooth.
Amazon said partners like Bose, Jabra, iHome, Beyerdynamic and Linkplay are working on new mobile Alexa devices using this development kit that will come out this year.
Amazon’s Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development Kit is a different kind of tool for developers. Rather than a set of APIs, it is the physical bones of Alexa. It actually uses the same microphone array configurations found in the Amazon Echo and Echo Show. Also included are the audio algorithms and wake word engine on a single chip.
Amazon said it is working to bring this kit to market on a limited basis and will share more information about how to request it later.
Amazon’s decision to open the digital brain up to developers and device manufacturers in 2015 has contributed to its early lead in the competitive smart speaker race. In August, Amazon introduced a new set of tools to help commercial device makers build the technology into their products. Amazon also last April opened 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. Amazon opened up Amazon Lex, the artificial intelligence technology that powers Alexa to developers.
The Alexa Skills Kit encourages third-party developers to build skills for Alexa. 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.
That has led Alexa to amass more than 25,000 skills and counting.