Qualcomm to produce Bluetooth chips with the Alexa wake word built in.

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Alexa Will Be Built Into Millions Of Future Devices

Qualcomm today announced that Sensory Inc. and Rubidium Ltd., members of the Qualcomm eXtension program, are now offering support for the Alexa wake word on certain Qualcomm Bluetooth Audio system-on-chips (SoCs). The new ability will be in the CSR8670 and CSR8675 chips and are some of the most popular Bluetooth chip sets for audio.

This deep hardware based integration of Alexa will allow manufacturers to integrate the Alexa wake word capabilities into Bluetooth products such as headphones, speakers, hearables and fitness accessories. After the wake word is detected the manufacturers device can pass the user’s spoken request to Alexa through an app on their mobile phone or other device. This uses a part of the Bluetooth spec that presents for ‘barge-in’ use cases, allowing a Bluetooth device to recognize and respond to the wake word while music is playing.

The CSR8670 and CSR8675 SoCs include:

  • Bluetooth 3.0 (Bluetooth 4.0 compatible)
  • 16Mb embedded flash memory (64bit wide)
  • Support for up to 64Mb external serial flash (optional)
  • Dual-core architecture with Integrated applications processor and an ultra low-power DSP coprocessor
  • RF Performance: Tx:+10dBm, Rx -90dBm
  • Integrated high performance stereo codec
  • Support for capacitive touch sensors
  • Integrated Li-Ion Battery Charger

The CSR’s next-generation audio system SoC solution with wireless connectivity, embedded flash memory and integrated capacitive touch sensors. CSR8670 will enable the creation of feature rich home entertainment and wearable audio products with a highly compelling user experience and superior audio performance. CSR8670 is software-portable from CSR’s popular BlueCore5-Multimedia platform, enabling easy migration of a broad range of CSR eXtension partner solutions, thereby facilitating rapid time-to-market deployment of a broad portfolio of consumer electronics products.

These are veer powerful yet low power chip sets.

A Significant Turn Of Events

This is a very significant turn of events for two reasons:

  1. Qualcomm will be produce tens of millions of these SoCs in 2017 alone with the potential to have Alexa integrated in a significant number.
  2. Having wake word scanning built into the low energy CSR8670 and CSR8675 SoCs means that the battery drain impact will be order of magnitude lower than using a devices ARM chip.

The strategy of including integrated wake word support for Alexa general SoC Bluetooth audio chipset is profound brilliance. This means that the opportunity for Alexa to be built into future devices with a very small software and hardware impact it extremely likely. This means we will soon find Alexa in millions of headphones, appliances, clock radios, automobiles, door locks and just about any other type of device one could imagine.

It has been my postulation that 50% of all human to computer interactions will be via a Voice First system over the next 10 years. With the deep integration of Alexa on hundreds of millions of Qualcomm SoCs, this is yet another way we will get there sooner than later. Voice First will be everywhere.

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[1] Press Release

[2] Data Sheet

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