Conexant AudioSmart Two Microphone Development Kit for Alexa Voice Service (PRNewsFoto/Conexant Systems, Inc.)

Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and audio processing chipmakers Conexant signed a partnership this week to take Alexa Voice Assistant into more devices by 2017.

The team up will make it easier for third-party developers to include Amazon’s AI into as many devices as possible, including smartphones, tablets, speakers, wearables, and thermostats.

Conexant announced its releasing a development kit approved by Alexa Voice Services, which is platform other developers can use to merge its products to Alexa within the Amazon Cloud.

Amazon Prime stands in contrast to Amazon’s all-you-can-read deal, Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99 fee that opens up their entire library of eBooks. Image Source: Amazon
Amazon Prime stands in contrast to Amazon’s all-you-can-read deal, Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99 fee that opens up their entire library of eBooks. Image Source: Amazon

The Conexant AudioSmart 2-Mic Development Kit

The kit gives hardware developers two microphones and a processor carrying software for picking up the “Alexa,” word, a command that wakes up any Alexa-enabled device. The company assures the processor will recognize the wake command in noisy environments.

The kit also includes the company’s latest voice input recognition, which enables built-in speech recognition- It provides an essential and practical grounding technology for Alexa systems, so hardware makers do not have to worry about creating the entire listening and recognition capabilities themselves.

Conexant created the kit to cut down the development time for hardware companies looking to install Alexa on their devices. The period to include Alexa takes around six months, but the AudioSmart kit will cut it to just a few weeks.

Conexant's smart audio experience. Image Source: Business Wire
Conexant’s smart audio experience. Image Source: Business Wire

The partnership is a good deal for both parties

Amazon is interested in spreading Alexa beyond its lineup of speakers, but the company does not have the partners nor the production capabilities to do so.

The cloud-based company opened Alexa to gadget makers last year, but the list of hardware developers that support the AI is still subtle. However, offering an easier way to cut development times could help increase the pace at which Alexa arrives in stores.

Conexant’s kit is a step towards this goal. Meanwhile, the chip making company will be selling components for production-ready devices.

Amazon users have already registered over 30 million cars in the ‘Amazon Garage’ for auto parts searching. Image Source: Business Insider
Amazon users have already registered over 30 million cars in the ‘Amazon Garage’ for auto parts searching. Image Source: Business Insider

AudioSmart 2-Mic Development Kit price and availability

The kit is available for $299, plus the separate cost of a Raspberry Pi 3. It sounds a lot compared to the price of an Amazon Echo speaker, just $199. Prototyping and production cost are very different things, and building a dev hardware from scratch with voice recognition could result more expensive than buying Conexant’s kit.

It means Alexa-ready devices will probably be high-end, and there will not be budget options very time soon, aside from Amazon’s offers. The prices will change when the technology is in a better place when voice recognition software becomes more straightforward and familiar.

Ultimately, the partnership means a boost for Alexa devices, so customers could hopefully see Alexa Voice Service spread farther into different gadgets and accessories.

Source: Forbes

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