Amazon's voice tech is now available to device makers
- Amazon is releasing a development kit for the hardware and software that powers its Echo devices' voice recognition per TechCrunch.
- Third-party original equipment manufacturers will have to apply on Amazon’s website to be considered for access to the technology via an invite-only review process by the e-commerce giant.
- The development kit is expected to work with a variety of hardware including ARM Cortex, Intel x86 and Raspberry Pi and covers both the microphone array used by Echo devices along with the software for recognizing wake-up words and reducing background noise.
While Amazon faces competition in digital personal assistants and home devices from the likes of Google Assistant and Home, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, the Alexa assistant and Amazon’s devices have emerged as early marketplace leaders and Amazon’s strategy to actively get its proprietary software and hardware in third-party devices looks to be a way to strengthen its early lead in a space that is on the rise.
Given Amazon's early strength here, hardware manufacturers are likely to jump at the opportunity to build their own smart devices with Alexa embedded. While Echo and other smart devices from Amazon have done well, the company is not a hardware manufacturer at its core. Offering a development kit helps Amazon ensure there is a steady stream of new devices with the potential to attract new customers and, in turn, more marketers to Alexa. If the company can support a healthy ecosystem for Alexa, it has a better chance of withstanding competition from Google as its play in this space accelerates.
Amazon has already been open with its artificial intelligence powered Alexa software, the backbone of its home digital assistant devices like Echo, including licensing it for competing devices and even in-car applications through a partnership with Ford. At this year’s CES, Amazon didn’t have a formal presence but still made waves with multiple companies announcing Alexa-powered products from the Ford partnership to new smartphones and even home appliances.