Amazon’s $100 million Alexa Fund has paid dividends for them with a stealth takeover of CES for the last couple of years, where we’re seeing third-party manufacturers integrating Amazon’s technology into devices ranging from cameras to cars. But this year’s take over of CES 2018 is anything but stealthy, with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant going head-to-head in Vegas.
So, especially with so much third-party hardware available, it’s interesting to see that Amazon has brought an Alexa hardware development kit to the table.
The Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development Kit is intended to help commercial device manufacturers more efficiently build high-quality Alexa experiences. Much like the Conexant kit we saw in the middle of last year, this kit isn’t really intended for makers, but to give device manufacturers access to the same audio technology that powers the latest Amazon Echo family of devices.
The kit includes a board mounted underneath the Raspberry Pi as well as a microphone array board mounted above it. It includes both circular 7-microphone array and a rectangular 8-microphone array, designed for 360° and 180° use, respectively.
This makes the kit suitable for tabletop devices that require voice pickup from all around, much like Amazon’s own Echo, along with devices that are placed near a wall, which require voice pickup from only one direction.
Unfortunately for us, it looks like Amazon’s reference design may not be going to be made generally available,. There is no suggestion of price and while we know that it’ll be available later this year, there is only going to be “limited availability.”