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Heads-up Kiwis, Alexa and Echo devices coming for you

Amazon announced that Amazon Alexa and Amazon Echo are coming to Australia and New Zealand early next year. 

Additionally, Amazon will be expanding the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to enable developers around the world to build voice experiences for Alexa customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Toni Reid, Amazon Alexa VP says, “The customer response to Alexa and Echo has been incredibly positive, and we’re excited to make them available for our Australian and New Zealand customers early next year.

“We also look forward to helping new and existing developers create innovative Alexa experiences for customers by expanding the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to Australia and New Zealand.”

Echo is designed around the user’s voice and is hands-free and always ready, users just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more from across the room and get results instantly.

Echo connects to the Wi-Fi network and uses far-field voice recognition with an array of seven microphones to clearly hear you around the room. 

Beam-forming technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation and even competing speech. 

The audio design of Echo includes a dedicated tweeter, a 6.35cm down-firing woofer, and Dolby processing to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room.

Alexa is the brain behind Echo and is built in the cloud, so the service is always getting smarter. 

With the expansion to Australia and New Zealand, Alexa will bring an all-new voice designed for customers in Australia and New Zealand, with local knowledge and skills.

Amazon will also make the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) available to developers interested in building skills for customers in Australia and New Zealand. 

ASK is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create new voice-driven capabilities for Alexa. 

No experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding is required, Amazon does all the work to hear, understand and process the customer’s spoken request so a developer doesn’t have to. 

In addition to offering skills from Uber, Spotify, Philips Hue, LIFX and more, Alexa will also have skills from Australian developers including Sky News Australia, Fox Sports, Qantas, Dimmi, Taste.com.au and Coastalwatch, and New Zealand developers like Air New Zealand, TVNZ, Newstalk ZB, New Zealand Herald, SKY TV and ZM Radio.

These developers have received an early preview of ASK and are already building Alexa skills.

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