Alexa gets around. The voice assistant has been in all types of devices, not just Amazon’s Echo products. You can talk to Alexa in coffeemakers, take it on the road with you, spend the holidays together, and even make it feed your pet. But inside many of those products—at least ones made from 2019 and on—is the same core hardware and silicon. Through a software development kit (SDK) Amazon announced this week, companies can still use Amazon’s cloud services, Alexa apps, and skills, while having greater freedom over the hardware used to deliver those services.
In 2019, Amazon launched Alexa Connect Kit (ACK), which allowed tech brands to use ACK modules, or, as Amazon explains it, “an Amazon-managed system-on-module” integrated into the Alexa device. It runs firmware that enables communication between the product and ACK-managed services, which come courtesy of Amazon Web Services’ IoT services business.
Before this week’s announcement, hardware was 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 uses Espressif’s ESP32-V3 SoC. Either ensures that makers of third-party Alexa products don’t have to “write an Alexa skill, manage a cloud service, or develop complex network and security firmware” for the voice assistant to work.
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