Alexa enabled Development Kits: AVS expanding boundaries
Alexa Voice Services (AVS) is a platform for Amazon’s AI Voice Assistant to be integrated into other devices and development boards. All you need is a microphone, a processor to run the AVS Client, Internet to send commands and data to the cloud and finally a speaker to reply to you. So do you need an expensive Echo device for this? Not really.
Where it all started
Though initially deployed only for Amazon products, Alexa has found a niche for itself in an increasing number of devices like smart-phones, home automation devices, and even vehicles in the near future. Now, Alexa is being integrated into various products to provide Automation, and IoT solutions through IFTTT (If This Then That) protocol and that renders Web-based tasks to handle triggers and follow-ups of user-defined tasks.
Raspberry-Pi with Alexa
The very first successful integration of AVS into mainstream development board was with the Raspberry Pi. Alexa was no more confined to specific devices that catered to Amazon Services. The AVS-Device-SDK expanded boundaries and gave way for makers to create everyday projects with their favourite Voice assistant. The SDK comes with built-in Alexa App and Wake-word engine to invoke Alexa. Interested in Raspberry Pi-AVS projects? Check out this link.
Qualcomm’s Mesh Wi-Fi Dev Kit with AVS
Fast forward two years, on February 20th, 2019, we have the leading semiconductor magnate Qualcomm introduce their partnership with Alexa. The Qualcomm Mesh Networking Development Kit for AVS is the first certified mesh-Wi-Fi system with Alexa built-in.
A stand-alone Wi-Fi network was responsible for connecting all the home devices. With the explosion of technology and faster connectivity demands, ensuring corner-to-corner Wi-Fi coverage became a hurdle. The advent of smart homes and devices with Alexa services became a double-edged sword. As a step to improve Alexa’s role in being the central communicator in smart houses and also provide uninterrupted spread-spectrum connectivity, the Qualcomm introduced the Mesh Wi-Fi Development Kit.
Inside the Dev Kit
Qualcomm IPQ4019 SoC powers the Kit and the full software stack of Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform. The 4-microphone array and AVS Device SDK with Wake-Word Detection provide far-field voice recognition capability. The kit uses Meeami Technologies’ ClearVoice far-field voice enhancement software for noise suppression and acoustic echo cancellation. Bluetooth and BLE support through BT radios ensure Bluetooth/Wi-Fi coexistence. Furthermore, the 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO provides faster IoT connectivity and AWS IoT integration.
What can it do?
OEM’s and other device manufacturers can now integrate the Qualcomm Kit to create Mesh Networks with Alexa to provide higher quality speech recognition and robust connectivity. As consumers, using this Dev Kit will let you better command over the internet. You don’t have to troubleshoot your router or change settings manually. Moreover, Infotainment also just got better. With the Bluetooth (BLE) devices and smartphones being equipped with Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit (AMA) as of November 2018, audio and video streaming has become seamless.
AVS in other development boards
Many contenders are fighting to win the voice integration battle into their development boards and devices. NXP i.MX RT MCU Alexa Voice Service Solution is a low-cost MCU connected to AWS IoT Core and Amazon Free RTOS. Intel and XMOS have their range of audio, video processing dev kits with Alexa. The Microsemi AcuEdge with AVS is a one-stop IoT solution with security, lighting, temperature control, intercom connectivity, and even a smart-TV control. Qualcomm has released news about creating an Alexa hosted automotive experience too. The opportunities are endless, and soon the AI Alexa will be a ubiquitous presence making our daily life that much more seamless.