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Amazon releases Alexa developer kit for wearable devices

Wearable devices and headphones will be able to access Alexa thanks to a new developer tool kit for OEMs.

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Image: CNET

Amazon on Friday introduced the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit, enabling device manufacturers to add Alexa to wearables like headphones, smart watches, hearables, and fitness devices.

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Previous toolkits for developers focused on Wi-Fi to connect with Alexa Voice Services, and not Bluetooth utilized by most wearables to tether with a smartphone. While developers could use a bulkier AVS Device SDK to put Alexa on wearables, they can now skip a lot of coding with the new toolkit that is more lightweight.

The first OEMs to include Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit in their wearable devices are Bose, Jabra, iHome, Beyerdynamic, Bowers, Wilkins, Linkplay, SUGR, and Libre Wireless. We're likely to see some of these at CES 2018 next week.

"Bose is excited to add a remarkable new Alexa experience for our customers," Brian Maguire, director of product management at Bose, said in the release. "Accessing Alexa's music, information, and vast number of skills on our headphones will become easier than ever, and we're looking forward to bringing our collaboration to life."

Amazon said device makers who want their Bluetooth audio-capable device to connect to Alexa will be able to do so with the new toolkit later this year. A specific launch date wasn't provided.

Amazon in the past has made Alexa available in its range of Echo products and to third-party device makers to include in smart home products, in-car navigation, and more. Now, more wearable users will be able to summon Alexa skills from their wrist thanks to Bluetooth connectivity via the Alexa app for Android and iOS.

The new toolkit could also help Amazon fend off rivals Apple and Google. Apple includes Siri on its Apple Watch, and Google just made a Google Assistant APK available to OEMs.

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Amazon

Coincidentally, Amazon also announced Friday a Alexa premium far-field voice development kit that helps OEMs build Alexa-enabled products with "premium far-field" performance.

"The dev kit gives device manufacturers access to the same audio technology that powers the latest Amazon Echo family of devices, so they can bring high-quality voice experiences to their products," Amazon said. It will be available later this year in limited supply.

Earlier this week, Amazon also introduced a Alexa Smart Home Skill API to enable developers to add Alexa easier to smart home products like microwaves and refrigerators.