Intel and Amazon made a joint announcement revealing their plan to work together on a series of smart home initiatives in the near future. The most notable part of the announcement was that the companies are planning to create a reference design for “an Intel-based smart speaker” which will include Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

Intel
Image Source: Intel (screenshot)

Alexa’s voice not constrained to Amazon devices

The company said in a statement on Thursday, “It is intended to help hardware manufacturers accelerate their development of voice-enabled devices with the Intel platform and Alexa Voice Services.”

It added that the reference designs will become available in the first quarter of 2017.

From the announcement, it is clear now that Alexa’s voice is not constrained to Amazon devices. Alexa can be put inside a great range of devices with the help of Alexa Voice Services (AVS), which go beyond Amazon Echo or Amazon Tap, notes VentureBeat.

In a blog post, Amazon’s AVS content marketing manager, Ted Karczewski, noted that the speaker concept will “support the standards needed for PAN connectivity in the home, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth, and is extensible enough to add video capabilities and environment sensors for an all-in-one customer experience.”

Karczewski state that Amazon will also release a software development kit (SDK) for the reference design to allow manufacturers to incorporate voice and video services into their products. Also smart home hubs with Intel chips will be able to run Alexa skills, the executive said.

In the past, the chip maker has partnered with other big names to create reference designs. A few years ago, Intel collaborated with Facebook to work on photonics, which is technology that can provide connectivity of 100 gigabits per second to data centers.

Intel has big ambitions for autonomous vehicles

Intel also recently made announcements about its self-driving car plans. The growing popularity of self-driving cars will drastically increase the demand for processing power in vehicles, and the company clearly wants to become a leading supplier of chips for autonomous vehicles.

The New York Times reported recently that the company will partner with Mobileye and Delphi to supply systems for self-driving cars. Mobileye’s sensor networks, Intel’s Core i7 microprocessors and Delphi’s radar system will be integrated to build systems for self-driving vehicles. Most likely, the companies will then seek it to sell the system to automakers.

Intel has carved out a separate “Automated Driving Group” within itself to focus on building driver assistance technologies and self-driving solutions. The group will also focus on unifying Intel’s self-driving data and technology operations, with the goal of perfecting its self-driving car solutions.