Amazon today made its Alexa Voice Service generally available for hardware device makers in Japan who want to put Alexa inside products. The Alexa Voice Service was made available for prototyping last fall around the time Echo smart speakers were first made available in Japan.
The Alexa Voice Service can be used for voice commands or to let a person speak with Amazon’s AI assistant — much like Alexa in an Echo smart speaker — to do things like create a calendar event, launch an Alexa skill, or check the weather.
Last November, developers in Japan were also given access to the Alexa Skills Kit, Amazon’s other big initiative to spread Alexa adoption. Earlier this week, Amazon launched a new look for its voice app building console for developers in the United States and Japan.
Manufacturers like Sonos, GE, and Kohler have used the Alexa Voice Service for its products. Tinkerers have also used it to put Alexa inside a remote control car, a wheelchair, and a can of Pringles, using a Raspberry Pi.
Japan is the latest nation to gain access to the Alexa Voice Service, following recent introductions for device makers in Australia, New Zealand, and India. English-speaking Echo speakers are now sold in more than 80 countries around the world, but Alexa is only able to speak German, Japanese, and English for users in Canada, Australia, the U.K. and India.
Alexa’s biggest rival, Google Assistant, expanded to speak 8 languages and pledged to become available in more than 30 languages by the end of the year.
To expand Alexa’s speech recognition and understanding of different languages, Amazon engineers released the Cleo Alexa skill last year. The Alexa Voice Service will be made available for device makers in France later this year, according to Amazon.