Qualcomm, Amazon collaborate to put Alexa in more wireless headphones

Amazon and microchip company Qualcomm will reportedly be teaming up for spreading the use of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa in wireless headphones. Through this deal, the chipmaker will launch a set of chips which could be used by any Bluetooth headphone maker to integrate Alexa directly into the device.

Apparently, users would be able to talk to the voice assistant just by tapping a button on the headphones after it is paired to a phone that has Alexa app on it. This function will be similar to Apple’s wireless earbuds AirPods, which enable users to tap the devices and talk to Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. Both Amazon and Google, whose voice assistants are mostly available in their respective smart speakers for home, are seen to be rushing to collaborate with headphone makers.

As per records, some Bose and Jabra models feature built-in Alexa, while Sony has recently announced that a software update will make select headphone models work with Alexa. Headphones from Sony, JBL, OnePlus and Bose, as well as Google’s own Pixel Buds will support Google Assistant.

The Qualcomm alliance could expand that lineup as the chipmaker, stated sources familiar with the matter. It has developed a pre-made circuit that the headphone manufacturers can integrate into their device to imbue it with Alexa, sources confirmed.

Senior vice president and general manager of voice and music for Qualcomm, Anthony Murray, stated that this greatly reduces the cost and time needed to market them, while making it simple for the industry to adopt. Murray further said the chipmaker plans to support other partners in the future but declined to comment if the chipmaker would make similar offerings for Google Assistant.

Through this move, Qualcomm diversifies away from only being dependent on processor and modem chips for mobile phones. The company also informed it is working with GoPro, an action camera maker, putting more Qualcomm chips for image processing in those devices.