On Thursday, Amazon announced three new initiatives for to support the artificial intelligence behind its Echo home assistant - Alexa.
Among these initiatives is a $100 million investment fund called the Alexa Fund. This fund will invest in developers, manufacturers, and startups that are "passionate about creating new experiences designed around the human voice." The fund is open to "anyone with an innovative idea for how voice technology can improve customers' lives," explained Amazon. In a statement on the Alexa Fund, CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos said, "Since introducing Amazon Echo, we've heard from developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes who want to innovate with this new technology. With the Alexa Fund, we want to empower people to explore the boundaries of voice technology. We're eager to see what they come up with."
In addition to the Alexa Fund, Amazon also unveiled the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service. The Alexa Skills Kit offers "software hooks" for the virtual assistant, making it easy for developers to connect their apps and software to Echo with just a few lines of code. "No experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding is required--Amazon does all the work to hear, understand, and process the customer's spoken request so a developer doesn't have to," explained Amazon. With Alexa Voice Service, Amazon has opened up Alexa to compatible internet-connected devices. "Today, we're excited to open up the Alexa Voice Service to any device maker that wants to add Alexa into their products--for free," said Greg Hart, Vice President, Amazon Echo and Alexa Voice Services. "We've made adding Alexa incredibly easy for developers--any device with a speaker, an Internet connection, and a microphone can integrate Alexa with just a few lines of code. From start-ups to established companies, we can't wait to see how developers integrate Alexa."
Photo: © Amazon.