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Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant to Possess More Office Equipment

Amazon is attempting to embed its Alexa voice-activated digital assistant onto office equipment built by third-party device makers.

The online retail giant said Wednesday that it debuted a new feature that lets office equipment makers more easily integrate their existing devices like video-conferencing gear and corporate calling headsets with the Alexa voice assistant.

The feature is an extension to the company’s existing Alexa Voice Service device software development kit, used by coders to embed Alexa into non-office equipment like Internet-connected speakers or home networking gear.

Device makers that use the extension will have their products registered with Alexa for Business, which is a paid service for companies that want to use the Alexa voice assistant for office tasks like helping people locate specific conference rooms or initiate business meetings.

Previously, companies that pay for the Alexa for Business service could set up multiple Amazon Echo speakers in their office so that workers could ask Alexa to help them find office rooms or other tasks. With the new extension, Amazon said that businesses could also tether to their existing office Echoes third-party devices that are registered as part of the Alexa for Business service.

Some of the companies that are working with Amazon on the new feature include BlackBerry, iHome, and Plantronics, which owns the corporate device maker Polycom.

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“We’ve been using Alexa for Business since its launch by pairing Echo devices with existing Polycom equipment, and integrating those experiences directly into products like Polycom Trio will take our customer experience to the next level of convenience and ease of use,” Plantronics vice president of alliance marketing Laura Marx said in a statement.

The new feature underscores Amazon’s push to popularize its Alexa digital assistant as the preferred way to interact with computers and devices using one’s voice, in which it faces competition from Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, among others.