We are excited to announce expanded features and solutions that enable device makers to bring Alexa experiences to headphones, earbuds, headsets, and other Bluetooth devices. Last year, we announced the general availability of the Alexa Mobile Accessory (AMA) Kit, enabling device makers to build Alexa into Bluetooth accessories that connect to Android and iOS devices by seamlessly pairing with the Amazon Alexa App. At the time, we also announced the availability of a reference design from Qualcomm and several systems integrators solutions. Today, we are announcing new AMA features, including location-aware responses, access to more music services, and new solutions including a new development kit from Knowles, and two new turnkey headphone and earbud solutions from My Music Group, making it even easier for device makers to provide delightful on-the-go experiences.
With Alexa built-in devices that implement the AMA protocol, users have been able to ask Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, manage calendars, get weather updates, and access tens of thousands of Alexa skills. We are constantly evolving what AMA can do and are excited to announce the following new features we have added since launch: 1) GPS-based location support, which allows users to ask Alexa for directions and traffic updates using Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps – or for local weather information, movie times, and searches, and 2) access to a growing selection of media services, including Amazon Music, Pandora*, Audible, Kindle, Sirius XM, Music Skills Kit for Live Streaming, and Gimme Radio, with more still to come. Lastly, wake-word engines from Amazon, Retune and others now allow device makers to provide completely hands-free Alexa experiences for headphones and earbuds.
Sony first implemented the AMA protocol via an over-the-air firmware update in January of this year for their popular Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones models WH-1000XM3, WH-1000XM2, and WI-1000X, to bring Alexa experiences anywhere with a simple touch on the ear cup. They followed this up with four more models in April: WF-1000X, WH-XB700, and WH-CH700N. Earlier this month, they updated four more models in their headphones and earbuds portfolio (WH-H900N, WF-SP700N, WI-SP600N, and WI-C600N) to bring Alexa experiences to more customers.
“With a simple integration, AMA has provided rich, on-the-go Alexa features that enable engaging customer experiences,” said Yang Cheng, Head of Video & Sound Business at Sony Electronics Inc. “Our customers love that they can easily access music, get information on-the-go, make calls, and control smart home devices with voice. Along with industry leading noise canceling and smart listening controls, we are thrilled to bring innovative voice experiences to our customers. We look forward to continually delighting our users with voice access to more music services, location-aware features, timers, and more.”
We are continually enabling multiple options for device makers to leverage AMA for existing or new headphones, earbuds, and headsets. We are delighted to announce the following additions to our portfolio.
The Knowles AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Amazon AVS is a production-ready implementation of AMA, and is the first Amazon-qualified development kit for hearables with voice-initiated Alexa functionality. The solution features Knowles’ IA611 SmartMic chip, which combines a capacitive MEMS microphone with low power digital signal processor (DSP) core in a single compact package, reducing size and cost, and simplifying the integration. It is combined with the Bestechnic BES2000i BT MCU incorporating the AMA protocol stack. The kit also includes a wake word engine from Retune. The architecture allows the BT MCU to remain in low power mode while the SmartMic monitors the microphone audio for the Alexa wake word, to provide the wake-on-voice function, consuming < 1 mA in this mode. To learn more about this development kit qualified by Amazon, go to our Development Kits page on the AVS Developer Portal.
My Music Group, an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM), has launched two new push-to-talk solutions that implement the AMA protocol to connect with the Amazon Alexa App on iOS and Android smartphones. The BarbetSound AskMe is an Alexa built-in Bluetooth headphone with soft, cushioned ear cups and a foldable design. This device features a microphone and 12mW transducer output. The rechargeable 300mAh battery in the headphone has a charge time of one hour and a playback time of 10 hours at maximum volume. The BarbetSound TalkEasy is an Alexa built-in Bluetooth earbud, designed to provide stability during movement. This device features a microphone and 8mW transducer output. The rechargeable 70mAh battery in the earbud has a charge time of one hour and a playback time of four hours. To learn more about these ODM solutions qualified by Amazon, go to our ODM Solutions page on the AVS Developer Portal.
Build on your own: The AMA Kit enables device makers to easily connect Bluetooth-enabled devices with Alexa using the Amazon Alexa App on Android and iOS devices. See our documentation to get started.
Prototype: You can prototype using production-ready system references for Bluetooth-enabled products. Available kits include the Qualcomm Smart Headset, and the Knowles Alsonic SmartMic Headset with the wake word engine tuned to Alexa.
Visit the Alexa for Headphones page for more details.