Amazon, last week announced the Alexa Fund, a $100 million in investments to support developers, manufacturers, and start-ups to develop Alexa, a voice recognition technology powering its Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around customers’ voice. Akin to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, Alexa will be hands-free and always on — and ready to provide users with information, music, news, and weather from across the room and provide results or answers instantly. Alexa is built in the cloud and leverages AWS to continue to learn and add functionalities over time.
Amazon also introduced the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create new voice-driven skills and capabilities for Alexa. With a few lines of code, developers can easily integrate existing web services with Alexa or, in just a few hours, they can build entirely new experiences designed around voice. For example, an Internet-connected sprinkler system can integrate its sprinklers with Alexa, so a customer can say, “Alexa, ask my sprinkler to water my lawn for 15 minutes.”
In addition, Amazon also unveiled the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the same service that powers Amazon Echo, which is now available to third party hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their devices. For example, a Wi-Fi alarm clock maker can create an Alexa-enabled clock radio, so a customer can talk to Alexa as they wake up, asking “What’s the weather today?” or “What time is my first meeting?”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO
Experiences designed around the human voice will fundamentally improve the way people use technology. 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.