Is the next big thing voice?

May 25, 2017 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
To date the Amazon Echo, which runs the Amazon Alexa digital assistant has been quite a success, which has just been followed up with the latest Echo featuring a built in display. Not to be outdone, Microsoft also launched its Harmon Kardon Invoke – a voice-enabled 360 speaker running Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant. Google has also been in the game for some time with Google Home. That just leaves Apple on the outside, but there are rumours that Apple is preparing a competitive device powered by Siri.

We already have voice assistants on our devices so why do we need another home device? The rationale behind each of the companies in this space is to fortify their businesses. Amazon does not have a presence in the mobile phone market so it has developed the Echo to get into the home – mainly to drive sales to its Amazon store. Currently Amazon is the market leader, with Google coming in second place.

The advantage for Microsoft is that Cortana is used by millions of Windows users already and that is now available in the home. Cortana is also a powerful digital assistant. Siri is in a similar position, so it would make sense for Apple to leverage Siri to the smart home speaker market. Apple could also bring Apple TV into the picture.

However, a key issue with this nascent market is that none of these digital assistants can talk to each other or co-operate in any meaningful way. Further, this is not an easy thing to do as the intelligence behind these systems is in the cloud. At the moment, having two different systems in the home is potentially a problem.

Amazon has taken a step further by partnering with NXP to create the first complete NXP reference platform for Amazon Alexa with far-field technology to simplify development of high performance voice-enabled devices.

Designed to simplify the creation of new voice-control devices, the NXP reference platform for Amazon Alexa on i.MX is a complete system containing Amazon’s 7-microphone array design, far-field audio processing technology, and AVS to enable customers and partners to create their own high performance devices with Alexa.