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Amazon making its voice technology available for all, announces $100M in funding for devs

Not only is Amazon now allowing Alexa, the voice that powers the Amazon Echo, to be integrated into more hardware, the company just announced a $100M campaign to fund developers.
By
June 25, 2015
amazon-echo-3
Amazon Echo pictured above.

Amazon just recently made the Amazon Echo available for all to purchase a few days ago, and now the company has yet another big announcement that will help bring the connected speaker into more consumers’ homes. The company has just announced that it’s now allowing third party developers to add Alexa, the software that powers the device, to be integrated into additional hardware. With only a few lines of code, devs will now be able to integrate the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) into their own hardware without needing extra experience with natural language understanding or speech recognition. The only requirement is that the hardware must contain a microphone, a speaker and an Internet connection. The AVS is free, and interested developers can download it from this website.

Here are a few nifty examples of what developers might be able to do with Alexa:

  • A Wi-Fi alarm clock that lets a customer talk to Alexa—“What’s the weather today?” or “What’s on my calendar today?”
  • A car that enables a driver to press the Alexa button on the steering wheel and request anything from Alexa, such as “Read my book” or “Remind me to pick up flowers after work.”
  • A movie ticket machine that lets a moviegoer say “Buy six tickets for the next showing of Jurassic World.”
  • A countertop weather station that enables customers to get more information by asking “What will the weather be next weekend?” or “What was the rainfall in June last year?”

Additionally, the company today announced the Alexa Fund, which will provide up to $100 million in investments to support developers and startups of all sizes to integrate the human voice in their products. The Alexa Fund has officially launched today with seven different hardware companies already onboard. The company says it’s looking to these particular areas of interest in which to place its investments:

  • New hardware products for inside or outside the home that would benefit from Alexa’s voice interface.
  • New features and functionality for Alexa.
  • New contributions to the science behind voice technology, including text-to-speech, natural language understanding, and automatic speech recognition.

The Amazon Echo is already a pretty nifty product, and now we should begin hearing Alexa’s voice in more products over the coming years.