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Knowles Announces First Amazon-Qualified Development Kit for Wake-on-Voice Alexa Headsets

AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit Supports Alexa With Lowest Power Voice Activation, Eliminating the Need for Push-to-Talk Activation

ITASCA, Ill., Jun. 11, 2019 — Knowles Corporation (NYSE: KN), a market leader and global provider of advanced micro-acoustic, audio processing, and precision device solutions, today announced that it has developed a new hands-free reference solution to enable OEMs and ODMs to build headphones, headsets and wireless earbuds that allow users to talk directly to Alexa. The Knowles AISonic™ SmartMic Headset Development Kit for the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) brings users natural access to the service’s capabilities by simply saying the “Alexa” wake word. This means customers can play music, place calls, access skills, and more – hands-free. The solution is fully compliant with the Alexa Mobile Accessory (AMA) protocol for Bluetooth accessories, and enables the industry’s lowest power which is necessary for wake-on-voice functionality in a small battery operated device.

This Development Kit includes the Knowles AISonic IA611 SmartMic, which integrates a low power audio edge processor inside a tiny microphone. All wake-word detection, identification of the voice wake word and local voice command processing is performed in the SmartMic and interfaces to the Bestechnic BES2000i Bluetooth System-on-Chip, which controls overall headset functionality and provides Bluetooth and BLE connectivity.  Retune DSP VoiceSpot™ technology provides the voice trigger and commands in the SmartMic Development Kit platform.

“Anker is committed to providing affordable, high-quality devices that consumers love,” said Rock Gao, General Manager of headphone BG at Anker.  “The growth of Amazon Alexa in the market creates a great opportunity for innovative accessories and the Knowles AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Amazon AVS will speed our time-to-market and help us meet the growing demand for true wireless earbuds and headset solutions with Alexa built-in.”    

Enabling speech recognition and voice control on a headset creates new challenges that smart speakers in a home do not experience.  Acoustic background distractors such as car noise, restaurant and bar “babble” and street noise need to be minimized to enable effective voice recognition performance while on-the-go.  Knowles’ AISonic solution is processed at the edge, designed to recognize the Alexa wake word and deliver speech requests for processing in these noisy, real-world environments without deteriorating the device’s battery life.

“As a turnkey solution provider and a leading system integrator of Alexa, Linkplay is looking forward to being an early integrator of Wake-on-Voice for Amazon Alexa Headsets using the SmartMic Development Kit,” said LinkPlay CEO, Lifeng Zhao. “This solution will help us bring true wireless, hands-free, wake-on-voice headsets and earbuds for Alexa Voice Service to market in the shortest time possible.  It is a great opportunity for our customers to deliver products early as demand ramps.”

Bluetooth headsets built with the SmartMic Development Kit connect directly to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) via the Alexa app for Android and iOS. End users who install the Alexa app can access Alexa features people know and love, including music playback, smart home control, calendar management, access to tens of thousands of Alexa skills, and more – hands-free. Users will be able to simply ask “Alexa, what time is it in Singapore?” without lifting a finger.  When listening to music the user can naturally increase volume, change songs, or pause the music, all using just their voice. When a phone call is received during music playback, the music is muted, and the user can “Answer” or “Ignore” the call, which is managed locally through the phone.

“Our voice-enabled AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Amazon AVS is redefining the Alexa user experience for ear-worn consumer products,” said Michael Maia, Product Line Vice President at Knowles.  “This design provides the first turnkey wake-on-voice, AVS-qualified platform for Alexa-enabled headsets and hearables, enabling manufacturers and developers to quickly integrate Alexa into their smart headsets and eliminate inconvenient push-to-talk interfaces.  The Bluetooth headset market is growing rapidly and with the addition of a natural user interface, the AISonic SmartMic platform, with our leading-edge audio edge processor, enables the next must-have feature in true wireless earbuds, sports, neckband, and over-the-ear headsets.”

“Knowles’ AISonic development kit makes it easier for device makers to quickly and cost-effectively launch headsets with hands-free Alexa experiences,” said Priya Abani, Director, Alexa Voice Service. “We’re thrilled that Knowles is committed to creating voice-first solutions that help developers save time and money building new devices for Alexa.”   

Knowles AISonic SmartMic Headset Development Kit for Amazon AVS is available to order directly from Knowles.

To learn more, please visit http://www.knowles.com/products/smart-microphones/amazon-avs

About Knowles

Knowles Corporation (NYSE: KN) is a market leader and global provider of advanced micro-acoustic, audio processing, and precision device solutions, serving the mobile consumer electronics, communications, medical, defense, automotive, and industrial markets. Knowles uses its leading position in MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) microphones and strong capabilities in audio processing technologies to optimize audio systems and improve the user experience in mobile, ear, and IoT applications. Knowles is also the leader in acoustic components, high-end capacitors, and mmWave RF solutions for a diverse set of markets. Knowles’ focus on the customer, combined with unique technology, proprietary manufacturing techniques, rigorous testing, and global scale, enables it to deliver innovative solutions that optimize the user experience. Founded in 1946 and headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Knowles is a global organization with employees in 11 countries.  The company was spun out from Dover Corporation in 2014 and has been focused on reshaping its business portfolio and investing in high value solutions to diversify its revenue and increase exposure to high-growth markets. For more information, visit knowles.com.

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