Amazon has just unleashed the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit, which will allow developers to integrate the highly popular voice assistant with portable wearable technologies spanning headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, and more.
The move hints at Amazon’s vision to expand the use-cases for Alexa outside of the home (where Echo is the associated hardware device) to anywhere people might have a need or want for voice services while on-the-go. The announcement comes in lock-step with Echo’s rising popularity, and thereby heightened interest in Amazon’s voice services on the whole.
Developers and equipment manufacturers can now more easily incorporate Alexa voice technology into their products. All they need is some basic code and Bluetooth connectivity, which allows for communication with the Alexa mobile app. The result? Cheaper and more seamless Alexa integrations.
The kit is only available as a developer preview for the time being. Early test partners include Bose, Jabra, and iHome, and more. As of now, no launch date has been released, but interested developers can sign up here to be notified when the kit is officially available.
With this move, Amazon is lessening the barriers to entry in what is otherwise a highly competitive and cost-prohibitive market. This could be especially game-changing for companies trying to find ways to perform against the likes of Apple and Google, both of which have their own voice assistants tied to their own hardware technologies (e.g. Bluetooth headphones).
One such company is Bose. In a statement to TechCrunch, Bose’s Director of Product Management, Brian Maguire, said, “Accessing Alexa’s music, information, and vast number of skills on our headphones will become easier than ever, and we’re looking forward to bringing our collaboration to life.”
For Amazon, the release of the kit comes directly on the heels of Echo’s breakout popularity this holiday season. Per Amazon reports, Echo Dot took the number one slot as the top-selling product across all categories on Amazon with “tens of millions sold.” As more and more people become accustomed to using voice services, Amazon is lining up a strategy to build its influence outside of the home.
The approach makes a lot of sense when you consider just how much the wearable industry is booming. Predictions by the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimate annual shipments of wearable devices to hit 222.3 million by 2021. This would translate into an 18.4 percent compound annual growth rate between 2017 and 2021. Across 2016 and 2017 alone, the IDC reported an 8.5 percent uptick in the shipment of such devices.
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