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Amazon’s Alexa Reference Hardware

Last week, Amazon announced new reference hardware. The device, in conjunction with NXP, brings the 7-microphone array of the Echo to those developers looking to prototype their own AVS-enabled products.

The program is still invitation-only now so it’s hard to say whether Amazon will also be granting a license to those companies who would want to deploy with it. It’s also not clear what other arrangements might need to be made.

I’ve received emails following the release about this and it poses a few questions:

  • How will this affect the chip companies that are working to put out DSP solutions?
  • Does this pose competition for other wake word companies looking to implement AVS-based solutions for Alexa (right now, Kitt.AI and Sensory)
  • How much of this design can be implemented into a final product?

It would seem that Amazon would more be looking to seed the market with reference hardware rather than become a supplier with all the headaches that entails. The release of this may help stir up more competition in the far field technology space.

Also, from a pragmatic standpoint, the reference hardware is not that competitive. The BOM would likely price out the microphone solution from all but handful of products with sufficient margin.

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