Amazon on Thursday announced plans to provide third-party manufacturers with hardware and software that will let them replicate the Echo's ability to identify and respond to voice requests even in noisy or large rooms. The kit includes the same 7-mic circular array, beamforming technology, and voice processing software that Amazon uses on the Echo.
"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," Alexa Director Priya Abani said in a statement. And the love almost certainly goes the other way, too: Amazon can maximize Alexa's ability to sell its goods and services if she works equally well on all the devices she supports.
The end result could be a boon for Amazon fans satisfied with their existing speaker setup who want a way of conversing with Alexa that works as well as an Echo. The company has already forged partnerships to put the Alexa voice assistant in cars (with Ford Sync) and smartphones (such as the Huawei Mate 9), among other devices. With the new developer program, we could see the Echo's voice recognition abilities built in to kitchen appliances, garage door openers, PCs, and a myriad of other products.
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As for when these devices will hit the market, it's hard to tell. Amazon is only offering the new dev kit to commercial device manufacturers with which it has a relationship. But anyone can request an invite to the program, and judging by Amazon's extensive resources for developers who want to make their products compatible with Alexa, it's likely that the company will expand the reach of the voice recognition program, too.
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