Amazon opens Echo microphone tech to third-party Alexa devices

In another step to build out the Alexa platform, Amazon is opening its microphone technology to developers.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(Image: File photo)

Amazon on Thursday said it will make the far-field microphone array and voice processing technology found in Amazon Echo available to third-party hardware makers for their own Alexa-enabled hardware.

Developers will have access to the same 7-mic far-field development kit on the three versions of the Echo, and will be able to integrate Amazon Alexa into their hardware.

The free program will be exclusive and invite-only, for OEMs. Amazon previously made the Alexa software available to third-party device makers, which we saw plenty of at CES 2017 earlier this year.

The microphone array allows for users to trigger the smart speaker from across their home or office with simple commands. Amazon opening it up to select developers could allow for more uniformity across the Echo/Alexa ecosystem and offer developers an easier way than sourcing or developing their own microphone solution elsewhere.

"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," said Priya Abani, director at Amazon Alexa, in a prepared statement.

Amazon has never released any official sales numbers for the Echo. The trio of smart speakers December 2016 sales were "up over 9x compared to last year's holiday season and millions of Alexa devices sold worldwide this year."

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