Amazon Echo could be facing a monumental change – here's everything you need to know
Amazon could allow other companies to use the hardware that powers its Amazon Echo smart speaker, according to a new report.
Until now, Amazon has allowed third-party companies to integrate the Alexa smart assistant into their products – but without the seven-microphone array that powers the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.
But that could be about to change, new reports have claimed.
Companies looking to build Alexa into their products could apply to use the powerful seven-microphone array and software that enables the Echo to pick-out voice commands from other background noise.
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Amazon uses beam-forming technology with its microphones to pin-point users.
Enhanced noise cancellation strips out any background hubbub, enabling the Amazon Echo to hear the spoken command – even when the speaker itself is playing music.
Opening up this technology to third-party companies could make the development of Alexa devices much quicker.
And since the hardware will use the same technology that powers the Amazon Echo, it will likely make them more accurate.
Amazon combines beam-forming and noise cancellation technologies in its own hardware
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Rather than spend time and money developing a microphone array of their own, companies can simply go to Amazon and use its existing one – which works brilliantly.
Amazon has not confirmed whether it will be charging third parties to access to its hardware designs.
However, it has provided some details on its approval process, which requires developers to apply to Amazon, providing details on the type of Alexa-enabled device they want to process, and how many units they want to ship.
Microsoft is believed to be almost ready to begin testing its Amazon Echo-style smart speaker with consumers.
The hands-free smart home device, which was first teased by luxury audio brand Harman Kardon earlier this year, is expected to launch soon.
Microsoft has teased the upcoming announcement itself.
The Redmond-based technology company recently debuted a new smartphone app for its virtual assistant Cortana, entitled "Device Setup".
The application walks users through the set-up process for Cortana-powered home devices.
The problem is – for now, at least – these Cortana-powered home appliances don't actually exist.
Microsoft has yet to formally unveil a smart speaker running its Siri and Alexa rival Cortana.
According to anonymous sources speaking to blog MSpoweruser, the company is preparing to invite Cortana users in the United States to be part of a device pilot scheme soon.
Amazon Echo lets users get directions, general knowledge answers, weather, news and more
The final product will probably be unveiled on-stage at the company's developer conference, dubbed Microsoft Build, next month.
Build is often a launch platform for new Microsoft hardware.
The 2017 developer conference is being held in Seattle, Washington, between May 10th and 12th 2017.
The smart speaker will likely be unveiled during the opening keynote for Build 2017, alongside new information on the next Windows 10 operating system update, and the eagerly-awaited Microsoft Surface Pro 5. Few details have surfaced about the connected Cortana gadget.
However, since it is powered by the same voice assistant that lives in the Windows 10 Creators Update taskbar, it's likely the speaker will have the same functionality.
That means users will likely be able to ask general knowledge questions, check the weather, play music, check on flights statuses, book appointment in their calendar, set alarms, and more, without lifting a finger.