Snips Partners with NXP for New Voice Control Platform 

Voice AI developer Snips announced the creation of a new voice control platform in collaboration with NXP Semiconductors on Friday. The microcontroller-based system is designed for companies building smart devices to add voice control without needing to connect to the cloud and will be available in early 2020.

Local Voice Control

To make the new solution, Snips and NXP integrated the automatic commands recognition technology developed by Snips with one of NXP’s most advanced microcontrollers. Manufacturers can add it to devices to make them responsive to voice commands. Unlike Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or other major consumer voice assistants, the voice control system is entirely local and does not need to transmit data to cloud servers to operate.

This has the twin advantage of lowering costs while removing any concerns about user privacy. And because the feature is built into hardware designed for turnkey integration, it takes less time and expense needed to get a product to the market. The final result includes other common automated speech recognition (ASR) features, including customizable wake words and commands, and software to suppress extraneous noise and echoes. The total package costs less than half of the standard market price, according to Snips and NXP.

“Combining the power of Snips Commands with NXP’s i.MX RT106L MCU-based local commands solution represents a breakthrough in price and performance,” said Snips CTO Joseph Dureau in a statement. “Making it easy for brands and manufacturers of smart home and smart appliance products to add voice control without requiring cloud connectivity, removing the need for Wi-Fi and eliminating users’ privacy concerns.”

Snipping Cloud Ties

The local control element of Snips has been a key part of how it distinguishes itself from other voice platforms. Running white-label voice assistants without needing to transmit data is understandably appealing of late, with so many voice assistant makers facing criticism for using contractors to review snippets of audio recordings from their products. Making their technology part of NXP’s feature offerings opens up an even wider range of potential users for Snips. Simplifying the addition of a voice assistant with Snips’ capabilities is likely to appeal to plenty of companies making smart devices.

Snips isn’t alone in its efforts to provide embedded natural language processing (NLP) solutions that don’t require cloud connectivity. Sensory also has an embedded solution and even announced a design for a smart speaker without cloud connectivity at CES 2019.