Several companies are already offering development kits for Amazon AVS (Alexa Voice Service), but as we’ve seen in the past, those are rather expensive with far-field kits such starting at $349 with kits such as Synaptics AudioSmart 4-Mic Development Kit, or Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit, and hands-free kits being barely cheaper at $299 and up.
But there will soon be a cheaper solution, as Allwinner and SinoVoIP (aka Banana Pi) are working on “SoC-Only 3-Mic Far-Field Dev Kit for Amazon AVS” that includes 3 microphones, and works without special DSP, relying instead on Allwinner R18 processor’s audio codec and capabilities.
Allwinner SoC-Only 3-Mic Far-Field Dev Kit for Amazon AVS (aka R18-AVS-EVK) specifications:
- SoC – Allwinner R18 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor @ 1.15GHz with Mali400MP2 GPU
- System Memory – 1GB DDR3
- Storage – 8GB eMMC flash
- Video Output – HDMI
- Audio – 6x Microphones, 2x AEC, AUX and headphone output; GMEMS voice recognition algorithm
- Connectivity – Dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
- USB – 1x USB type A port, 1x micro USB OTG port
- Power Supply – 12V DC input
- Dimensions – Mainboard: 100 x 100mm; microphone array board: 90 mm ∅
The board will support Linux operating systems at first, but Android is also being worked on. A ribbon cable is also included in the kit to connect the mic array to the main board. Now you may wonder why a 3-mic development kit comes with 6 microphones. Allwinner explains:
6 microphones are included on the board, while only three are used and qualified, providing flexibility to tune for 6/4/3/2 mic solutions and freely match with different product designs
I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I guess the kit only works for three for now, but in the future algorithms may support a combination of up to 6 microphones. We’ll have to see how the solution works compared to DSP based systems.
The development kit is now found on Amazon website yet, but a page on Banana Pi website mentions they are 50 unit for pre-sale for $129 with shipping scheduled on February 5, 2018. The “Buy” link does not work yet. A few more details may be found in the product page on Allwinner website.