Nordic Semiconductor nRF Connect SDK now offers application software development support for Alexa Gadgets

nRF Connect SDK

Example application code included with nRF Connect SDK v1.4 simplifies development of smart peripheral firmware

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that the latest version of its nRF Connect SDK (Software Development Kit) (version 1.4) includes example application software code for Alexa Gadgets. By using the code as the basis for software development, developers can accelerate time-to-market for Alexa Gadgets based on Nordic’s nRF52 Series or nRF5340 Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) Systems-on-Chip (SoCs).

The software code supplied with the newly-released nRF Connect SDK v1.4 supports the Alexa Gadget Bluetooth Service as well as all Alexa Gadgets interfaces, including custom events and directives. In addition to the nRF Connect SDK v1.4, before development can commence engineers require an appropriate nRF52 Series Development Kit (DK) or nRF5340 PDK (Preview Development Kit), an Amazon Echo device, an Alexa Developer account, and a registered Alexa Gadget within the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) console.

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By using the SDK and Nordic short-range wireless SoCs, the engineer can significantly accelerate Alexa Gadget product development
Thomas Søderholm, Nordic Semiconductor

Configuring Alexa Gadgets

By using the nRF Connect SDK configuration system (“kconfig”) a developer can configure many aspects of the Alexa Gadget example application without touching any of the software files. For example, the developer can alter the Alexa Gadget name, type, and registration values, as well as configure support for specific interfaces.

Nordic’s nRF Connect SDK supports the build of short-range wireless and low power cellular IoT applications. The SDK enables development with all Nordic’s nRF52 Series SoCs and the nRF5340 SoC using the nRF5340 PDK. The SDK offers developers an extensible framework for building very small applications in highly constrained circumstances, but also the ability to develop powerful, fully-featured software for advanced applications. It integrates the Zephyr RTOS (real time operating system) and a wide range of samples, application protocols, protocol stacks, libraries, and hardware drivers.

Alexa Gadgets are Bluetooth connected, interactive companion devices that work with Amazon Echo devices. When a product is built with the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit technology, a customer can use Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, to interact with that product via a custom skill. The voice command is received by an Echo device and processed in the Amazon cloud; that command is then returned to the Echo device which in turn forwards the directive to the Alexa Gadget. The wireless connectivity between an Echo device and the Alexa Gadget is enabled by Bluetooth.

The latest of several initiatives

nRF Connect SDK support for Alexa Gadgets is Nordic’s latest offering. Other recent initiatives include cooperation on Amazon Common Software (ACS) (a platform to help accelerate the development of smart home and other wireless products). And Bluetooth LE solutions for Amazon Sidewalk (a neighborhood network designed to help customer devices work better together both at home and beyond the front door).

“The connected home will fulfil its potential when voice-controlled hub devices like smart speakers can interact with the widest range of smart peripherals,” says Thomas Søderholm, Director of Business Development at Nordic Semiconductor. “Amazon is leading the way in realizing this vision and that’s why Nordic is supporting Alexa Gadget application software development on the latest version of Nordic’s nRF Connect SDK. By using the SDK and Nordic short-range wireless SoCs, the engineer can significantly accelerate Alexa Gadget product development.”  

The nRF52 Series SoCs combine a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor, with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT™, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) featuring reduced radio energy consumption, with generous Flash and RAM memory allocations. TX is programmable and sensitivity is -96dBm (Bluetooth LE 1 Mbps). The nRF52 Series SoCs are supplied with Nordic’s SoftDevices, Bluetooth 5.2-compliant RF protocol software ‘stacks’.

Nordic’s nRF5340 is an advanced ultra low power SoC that introduces a new flexible, dual-processor hardware architecture. It is based around dual Arm® Cortex®-M33 processors; a high performance application processor capable of DSP and Floating Point (FP), offering voltage and frequency scaling options and running up to 128 MHz (510 CoreMark) with dedicated 1 MB Flash and 512 KB RAM, and a fully programmable, ultra low power network processor running at 64 MHz (238 CoreMark) with dedicated 256 KB Flash and 64 KB RAM. The SoC incorporates Arm CryptoCell-312, Arm TrustZone® technology, and Secure Key Storage for the highest level of security.