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Samsung has Knowles’ all in the FamilyHub; developer kit for smart edge devices launched



Knowles Corporation, a provider of micro-acoustic devices and audio processing technology, has released a development kit that will make it easier for appliance makers to build in voice-activation and speech recognition into their products. Knowles noted that Samsung has used the product in the FamilyHub connected hub for smart appliances.

The development kit, called the AISonic White Goods Standard Solution, is for OEM and ODMs to bring new smart appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, dryers and more to market with features such as voice-activated control with far-field speech recognition. The kit is built on Knowles’ AISonic Audio Edge Processor IA8201 and includes a reference board and supporting API for integration with processors. The kits include pre-integrated microphones, another product that Knowles specializes in developing for embedded applications.

“As the smart home appliance market matures and continues to expand, support for voice interfaces is expected to become a highly requested feature that consumers look for in new appliances,” said Vikram Shrivastava, senior director, IoT Marketing at Knowles in a prepared statement. “The ability to ask your refrigerator to read aloud your grocery inventory, play a recipe video while cooking, or ask your oven to pre-heat while you prepare dinner, all contribute to the user experience” he said. However, OEMs have power and memory constraints to deal with—Shrivastava says the company’s hardware system integrators have a range of modules that integrate with legacy appliance control boards.

One interesting feature that will broaden acceptance of the solution is support for multiple voice assistants to be integrated into a single device. The manufacturers do not have to bet on consumer acceptance of a single service such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant; consumers themselves activate the service they want by saying its name, according to Knowles. The wake word engine was developed by Sensory, Inc, a partner in Knowles’ Open DSP program.

The voice biometrics market is expected to approach $7.7 billion by 2027. In terms of Smart Home devices, smart speakers have received a big share of media attention, but market research firm IDC expects speech recognition functionality to get incorporated into other device types (including appliances) and projects shipments to account for over 30 percent of the total Smart Home device market by 2024.

Knowles is banking on continued growth in voice recognition to drive financial results in 2021, and having a global consumer and white goods brand like Samsung on board is significant for driving momentum. Revenue in 1Q 2021 increased 23 percent year over year to $201 million (USD), with EBITDA profit from audio products of $30.4 million. Executive expects revenues to grow 28 percent year-over-year in the second quarter of 2021 as sales of audio products continue to accelerate.

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