Amazon has announced it will, along with other investing companies, invest up to US$100 million to fund voice-based technology innovation.
The Alexa Fund, named after the digital assistant service in the Amazon Echo device, will invest in people and companies developing hardware products that would benefit from Alexa’s voice interface; new features and functionality for Alexa; or new contributions to the science behind voice technology (such as text-to-speech, natural-language understanding and automatic speech recognition).
Along with the Alexa Fund, Amazon announced the Alexa Skills Kit, a free SDK for developers consisting of a collection of self-service APIs and tools to build voice-enabled capabilities for Alexa. The fully cloud-based SDK is available today as a free preview.
“When we launched Amazon Echo, we immediately heard from developers about the innovative voice experiences they would create if they had access to an SDK,” said Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Echo and Alexa Voice Services, in a press release. “Today, we’re making the Alexa Skills Kit available to any developer, maker or general hobbyist that wants to invent on behalf of customers, creating new skills and capabilities. We can’t wait to see what developers are going to invent with this technology.”
Developers can write cloud-hosted code through the SDK with access to the AWS Lambda compute service; a voice design handbook; and Alexa Skills Interface Reference detailing the coding and syntax of Skills, which are voice-oriented questions or commands.
In addition to the SDK, Amazon announced the release of the Alexa Voice Service to third-party hardware makers to integrate Alexa into connected devices.