From October 22 to October 24, Qualcomm Global 4G/5G Summit was held in Hong Kong. At the meeting, Qualcomm announced a partnership with Amazon. Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon, was embedded in Qualcomm's Bluetooth headset chip. Based on this, Qualcomm launched the industry's first Bluetooth Smart Headset Reference Design. When the headset is connected to an Android phone that has downloaded Alexa's application, users can activate it through a button on the headset. Alexa.
The reference design is based on Qualcomm Bluetooth audio chip QCC5100 series. In addition to Alexa support, the solution also supports longer playback time and battery life through ultra-low power consumption, and integrates noise reduction technology to support high-definition audio and voice services. In addition, equipment vendors can increase their support for active noise reduction and aptX HD HD wireless audio.
At present, the reference design of Qualcomm smart headset based on Alexa has been put on the market. Bluetooth headset manufacturers can evaluate and develop related products through the reference design.
There is no doubt that headphones have become another track for AI voice assistants since AirPods showed us the possibility of headphones as an AI capability export in 2016. Earlier, Alexa worked hard for the smart headphone game - this year, Alexa has been applied to Bose and Jabra headphones, and said it will be added to some Sony headphone products in the form of software upgrades in the future.
The cooperation between Amazon and Qualcomm will bring chip-level support to Alexa, greatly reduce the research and development cost and time cost of Bluetooth headset device manufacturers accessing Alexa, pave the way for Alexa to enter thousands of Bluetooth headsets, and bring Alexa natural advantages in the battle for smart headphones.
△ Bose QC 35 II for Alexa and Google Assistant
But holding hands with Qualcomm doesn't mean Alexa can lie down and win. In a media interview, Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Vocal Music Department of Qualcomm, declined to say whether it would provide similar custom chips for Google Assistant in the future, and said that Qualcomm would support other partners in the future.
Meanwhile, Alexa's "dead-end" Google Assistant on the smart speaker is not idle. As early as at the hardware conference in 2017, Google released Pixel Buds smart headphones with built-in Google Assistant voice assistant, giving Bluetooth headset voice dialogue and translation functions. Since then, Google Assistant has been working with headphone brands such as Bose, JBL and Sony to insert small red flags on the track of smart headphones.
△ Sony Bluetooth Headset Supporting Google Assistant
Recently, Google announced the opening of AI translation to all headphones that support Google Assistant, which means that headphones with Google Assistant can directly unlock real-time translation skills in 40 languages - a huge temptation for device manufacturers and users.
Although at present, Google Assistant does not have chip-level support like Alexa, in the final analysis, the "smart" of smart headphones at this stage still needs the support of mobile phones. Even though Alexa has been embedded on the chip, the premise of using this function is that users need to download Alexa mobile App by themselves. At this point, it's not a problem for Google Assistant, which has been the home battle. Since last year, more than 5.0 Android smartphones have supported Google Assistant (excluding the Chinese market).
Considering the above factors, we may soon see that Alexa and Google Assistant, the two speakers, are pinching up on the smart headphone track.