Amazon announced yesterday that it is making the high-performance far-field microphone array and voice processing technology found in Amazon Echo available to hardware makers.

“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,” said Priya Abani, Director, Amazon Alexa. “With this new reference solution, developers can design products with the same unique 7-mic circular array, beamforming technology, and voice processing software that have made Amazon Echo so popular with customers. It’s never been easier for device makers to integrate Alexa and offer their customers world-class voice experiences.”

The program is not available for everyone and currently in invite-only mode. Commercial device manufacturers who are interested in acquiring rights to use the technology can request an invite here.

The virtual assistant coupled with smart speaker is the hottest trend in the device world right now, with Amazon Echo, Google Home and Microsoft’s Harman/Kardon Invoke smart speaker soon on the way. Others like LG and Lenovo showcased their own versions of the smart speaker at CES 2017.

But, in its Amazonian way of being one step ahead of the competition, the company has made the hardware that underpins its Echo smart speaker accessible to third party device manufacturers. These ODMs can now utilize the 7-mic circular array, the technology for the “Alexa” wake word recognition, beamforming, noise reduction, acoustic echo cancellation, and barge-in capabilities found in the Amazon Echo to build their own devices.

We see this as a strong tactic to preempt similar moves by the growing base of competitors in this space. In fact, we foresee other companies licensing their proprietary digital smart assistant and related hardware technologies in a similar way, offering ‘white label intellectual property’ as an incentive to manufacturers, while at the same time allowing the licensors to spread their wings into areas they would otherwise not be able to enter.

Nice one, Amazon!

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Amazon Press Release

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