[CES 2017] Sensory brings voice activated Alexa to Bluetooth headsets with VoiceGenie

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Through VoiceGenie, the Alexa integration will enable a hands-free voice assistant to not only control music but also access other information.

It seems that one of the underlying themes at CES 2017 is the integration of Alexa Voice Services into third-party products. Sensory is bringing voice activated Alexa to Bluetooth headsets with their VoiceGenie suite of technologies and application. Through VoiceGenie, the Alexa integration will enable a hands-free voice assistant to not only control music but also access other information. Targeting the growing market for stereo Bluetooth headset systems and other wearable, fitness, and audio devices, Alexa can be accessed via a Bluetooth headset, using VoiceGenie and the connected smartphone as a gateway to the cloud.

Until now, technical restrictions including running on tiny DSPs, limited battery power, cloud connections, and ability to work during noise and music playback, have made it difficult to incorporate this technology into smaller Bluetooth headsets. Sensory intertwined its speech recognition code with a music decoder so they could run simultaneously and in low power on a small DSP to overcome these limitations. By running on the latest Qualcomm Bluetooth audio SoC designed for headphones and headsets, Sensory’s embedded low-power speech recognition technologies can offer an “always ready” hands-free experience.

The three different types of voice-enable AI assistants possible through VoiceGenie include:

  1. VoiceGenie: Allows access and control for Bluetooth devices and music playing from the mobile phone. Checking connections, battery strength, settings or controlling music playback and more can all be done through voice commands, even when the music is playing. When phone calls come in VoiceGenie announces who is calling and lets you answer or ignore the call by voice.
  2. VoiceGenie to Phone Commands: VoiceGenie can listen for commands to be directed to the built-in mobile assistants.
  3. VoiceGenie to Alexa: Using the VoiceGenie mobile app, Alexa can be accessed by voice through the headset. This provides access to the thousands of Alexa skills offered, ranging from controlling your smart home to finding you a location for dinner. You don¹t need to be anywhere near an Echo, VoiceGenie makes the connection to the Alexa cloud ­ Just say, “Alexa.”

Check out the VoiceGenie fact sheet below and let us know if you’re looking forward to Alexa coming to Bluetooth headsets in the near future in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

VoiceGenie Fact Sheet

What is VoiceGenie?

It’s a suite of technologies (speech recognition, text to speech, etc.) and an application that runs on Bluetooth™ devices. The Bluetooth application enables a hands-free voice assistant to control music and access to other information. There’s also a handset application that enables Alexa.

What’s Special about VoiceGenie?

  • It enables Alexa on the go. Amazons Alexa has required a Wi-Fi connection to be full featured. This requirement made it more difficult to have a portable or personal Alexa device. With VoiceGenie, Alexa can be carried around to control lights, track fitness or any of the other 6000 skills now enabled; you can take Alexa with you on a run or hike!
  • No buttons required. Going out for a run or hike while listening to music, making/receiving occasional calls, and checking steps or heart rate has always required accessing the phone for controls. Now it can be done through the headset with minimal touch requirements.
  • Listens while music plays. This is hard to do on a big system with lots of MIPS and memory. It’s even more difficult on a tiny CSR/Qualcomm chip with minimal MIPS and memory. Sensory’s patented approach is now available and works!

Who is Sensory?

Sensory is a 60 person Silicon Valley technology licensing company that pioneered the use of neural nets and machine learning in consumer electronics. Sensory was started in 1994 and has shipped in over 2 billion consumer products from companies like Hasbro, Huawei, LG, Mattel, Motorola, Plantronics,  Samsung, Sony and many others. Today Sensory’s portfolio includes of a variety of AI technologies including speech recognition, natural language, speaker verification and machine vision.

Does it Listen for Alexa or VoiceGenie? How are they different?

It simultaneously is on and listening for “Alexa” or “VoiceGenie.” The Alexa voice trigger accesses the Alexa Voice Services through a handset app that connects into the cloud. The app will be released on Android and iOS. VoiceGenie controls the Bluetooth™ device and accesses the phone, and can do things like making/receiving calls by voice, checking batteries or connection strength, and adjusting Bluetooth device settings. VoiceGenie requires no handset app and can directly control music on the handset.

What Bluetooth devices does this run on?

VoiceGenie runs on the CSR 8670 chip and is planned to be released on CSR 8675 as well. Other platforms may be enabled down the road. Bluetooth product manufacturers have made no formal announcements, but Fiil (from China) and BlueAnt (Australia) are expected to make early releases in 2017.

When does VoiceGenie ship?

Sensory is announcing the technology at CES 2017. Sensory will be providing demo’s and sample code to its customer base in Q1 2017. Sensory expects product releases from its customers in Q3 2017. Sensory’s current Bluetooth customers include Binatone, BlueAnt, Fiil, GN Netcom, LG, Motorola, Plantronics, Samsung and others.

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