Amazon is making the technology that makes its Echo line of devices so good at picking up your voice commands available to third-party device makers. That includes the microphone array that helps Echo pick up speech even in a fairly noisy room, as well as Amazon’s own proprietary software for recognizing wake words, reducing background noise and cancelling out echoes in large open rooms.
The tech will be made available as a development kit, but it won’t be open season: Amazon’s offering it up to external OEMs on an exclusive, invite-only basis, after reviewing applications from interested parties made via its website.
Amazon has designed the kit to be “compatible with leading chipset solutions,” which basically means it’s intended to be used products powered by a range of different CPUs and silicon (it lists ARM Cortex, Intel x86 and Raspberry Pi as selection options in the application form, along with “Other”). The intent of the program is to help get partners more quickly up and running with baking Alexa into their hardware devices, something the company has been encouraging through its Alexa Voice Services program, too.
My advice if you’re making any kind of connected hardware with a speaker on board: Go ahead and apply. Alexa ruled the roost at CES last year, and it’s likely to only gain steam in the forseeable future.