Amazon is making it easier for hardware makers to add Alexa to their products by lowering the requirements and enabling devices with very low-powered chips and just 1MB of RAM to run Alexa Voice Service.
Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enables developers to access cloud-based Alexa capabilities with the support of AVS APIs, hardware kits, software tools and documentation. By handling complex speech recognition and natural language understanding in the cloud, Amazon is lowering the barrier to entry for businesses that want to add Alexa capabilities to their devices.
Alexa built-in devices previously required at least 100MB of RAM and an ARM Cortex A-class processor. Now though, the requirement for AVS integration for AWS IoT Core has been lowered to just 1MB and device manufacturers can utilize cheaper Cortex-M processors.
By lowering the hardware requirements needed to add Alexa to a device, Amazon is making it much easier for companies to build single-purpose devices such as light bulbs and light switches with Alexa functionality.
These new devices won’t be able to run complex voice-recognition models and decision engines locally, so all of that work will be done in the cloud. However, these single-purpose devices will still need to be able to detect the wake word to start the Alexa functionality.
VP of IoT at AWS, Dirk Didascalou explained to TechCrunch that low-spec Alexa devices just need to be able to detect the wake word, saying:
“We now offload the vast majority of all of this to the cloud. So the device can be ultra dumb. The only thing that the device still needs to do is wake word detection. That still needs to be covered on the device.”
Lowering the requirements for Alexa devices could also end up being the first step towards ambient computing where users just have to speak to their environment and their environment can interact with them.