Alexa Devices Bring Easier Silicon to Your Favorite Products

Alexa has a following. The voice assistant has been used in a variety of gadgets, not just Amazon Echo devices.

You can converse with Alexa in your coffeemaker, take it on the road with you, spend the holidays together, and even feed your pet. However, inside many of those products—at least ones manufactured starting in 2019 and forward—there is identical basic hardware and silicon.

Companies may still utilize Amazon’s cloud services, Alexa apps, and skills via an API announced this week

Amazon created Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) in 2019, allowing companies to use ACK modules or, as Amazon puts it, “an Amazon-managed system-on-module” integrated into the Alexa device.

It employs firmware to allow the product and ACK services linked to Amazon Web Services’ IoT service to communicate with each other.

Hardware has previously been either a Mediatek WM-BN-MT-52 chipset with an Arm Cortex-M4 processor and MT7697H SoC or an Espressif ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO, which employs the Espressif ESP32-V3 SoC.

This ensures that third-party Alexa devices do not have to “write an Alexa skill, manage a cloud service, or develop complex network and security firmware” in order for the voice assistant to operate.

The EZTV Android TV Box Basic Edition is a developer board with the Mediatek-based ACK module integrated. Amazon is now allowing OEMs and system integrators to design their own hardware modules in an attempt to give “more control over costs and features.”

Partners can use an Amazon-approved SoC or “apply” to use their own, according to Amazon. That appears like a potential roadblock, but Amazon will also take applications so that more SoCs may get the Amazon seal of approval.

The addition of new manufacturers and consumers, as well as the expansion in use by 3rd-party device makers, paves the way for increased diversity in parts utilized in the ever-growing list of Alexa-enabled goods. For example, greater battery life could be one of those advantages.

Amazon highlighted potential benefits such as “optimizing power profiles by taking advantage of SoC’s low-power modes and controlling peripherals” for current goods now that Amazon has relaxed its hardware restrictions a touch.