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Future Echo devices could come with Amazon's own custom AI chip

Amazon buys Blink Blink security cameras energy-efficient chips Amazon Cloud Cam security camera market Immedia Semiconductor Amazon Echo GoPro Digital Video chips smart-home technology

Just say the wake word "Alexa" and Genie plays music, controls your smart home devices, answers your questions, sets calendars, reports the weather and news and more. By relying less on the cloud, Alexa would respond by processing requests locally using built-in intelligence, an improvement that could make it seem like you're having a normal conversation with the assistant.

When news of the acquisition broke, most thought that Amazon would use Blink to enhance its own smart camera projects. The e-commerce giant is exploring chips that are exclusive to just Blink that could reduce production costs as well as lengthen the life of batteries for other electronic gadgets beginning with Cloud Cam and extending to Echo speakers, said one of the sources.

Chipmakers who now supply Amazon with chips for its Echo devices include Texas Instruments (Amazon Echo 1st Gen), Intel (Echo Show), and MediaTek ( Echo Dot 2nd Gen). But he think Amazon is unlikely to offer the kind of support for commercial sales of the chip that other longtime chipmakers do. The company ditched its long-time GPU producer a year ago to create the in-house graphics chips found in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

The technical specs for the chip itself weren't detailed, but the report noted that Annapurna Labs, an Israeli chip maker Amazon acquired for $350 million in 2015, has been tasked with the chip's development.

Google has also started pushing its Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) - AI accelerating circuits - on its cloud platform to enable engineers to run machine learning models faster.

The reports which first surfaced on The Information (paywalled) suggests that the AI chips will also be used for Amazon Web Services (AWS), to allow users a more intuitive experience.

For over a year now, Vizio TV owners have been able to control their SmartCast TVs with Google Home, and now the company is bringing another digital assistant to the table: Amazon Alexa. The company is now producing A.I. chips that specifically suit Amazon's own hardware needs.