Building a complete use case or an application while integrating smart voice functionality like Amazon’s Alexa could be a tedious task. It requires managing cloud services, writing an Alexa Skill, and phone applications that could be complicated and frustrating for users. Hence, Espressif has released its easy to integrate ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO-Devkit which is built on the ACK (Alexa Connect Kit) module.
The ACK module is technically known as ‘ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO’ which is an ESP32-PICO-V3 system in package. This package is based on the ESP32 V3 SoC featuring builtin Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The system-on-chip (SoC) is a 32-bit XTensa LX6 MCU designed with TSMC’s 40-nm low power technology.
The ACK module also comes with:
- 4 MB SPI flash
- Crystal oscillator
- Filter capacitors
- RF matching links
- Bluetooth with 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11 b/g/n
The Electromaker Show Episode 34 featured the ACK development kit, which is something of a collaboration device between Amazon and Espressif. The development board comes with “compact size, high performance, and seamless connectivity” dedicated for easy-to-use applications. One of the interesting things about the ACK development kit is its compatibility with the Arduino Zero development board. It allows easy connections with host processors and various peripherals.
Beginners don’t need to worry about the firmware for the development board as it already comes with an onboard set of programs consisting of the ACK module firmware. Espressif says “The ACK module firmware is managed by Amazon and provides out-of-box features such as Frustration-Free Setup, Alexa connectivity, and Amazon Dash Replenishment.” The interfacing of peripherals with the host microcontroller unit (MCU) during a connection with the ACK module is also possible using the UART interface. Hence, this kind of set-up eases the overall process and complexity of the system, without compromising the functionalities of the use case.
CNX Software’s post has brought to our attention that a US-based Amazon Developer Account is required for getting started with the board. If you don’t have a US-based account, you can still build your Alexa-based applications using the USI development board. However, both the boards (USI and ACK) are “meant to be connected to the Arduino Zero board – the HMCU board – as a shield.”
You can get started with the development kit by following Amazon’s documentation. The ACK development kit is available for $70 USD from Mouser. For more information regarding the ACK development kit, visit the official product page.