Amazon has announced a major change to its Alexa Voice Service: it is now available to manufacturers for devices that feature as little as a single megabyte (1MB) of RAM. The new minimum requirement, which is considerably lower than the previous 100MB minimum, opens the door for Alexa across a vast number of connected gadgets for the home, office, cars, and more.
Alexa arguably remains the most popular personal assistant among consumers; it can be found built into a variety of smart speakers from Amazon and third parties, as well as select smart TVs, soundbars, smart displays, and more.
A large number of smart home devices can be used with Alexa, including everything from smart plugs and light bulbs to coffee makers and washing machines. Alexa Voice Service now supports devices that feature the low-power and relatively inexpensive Cortex-M processor and as low as 1MB of RAM.
The new minimum requirements open the door for Alexa in a huge number of devices while helping lower the cost to consumers. Something small and simple like a single light bulb or new types of smart wearables could feature Alexa built-in at low prices with this new support.
Amazon Web Services Internet of Things VP Dirk Didascalou explained to TechCrunch that devices can now be ‘ultra dumb’ because Alexa offloads the majority of the work to the cloud. The device only needs hardware sufficient enough to process the wake word (“Hey Alexa,” for example) and the rest happens in the cloud.