Amazon has launched a $100 million strong fund to fuel voice technology innovation, with the intention of ensuring it becomes the key tool used in home lighting control.
Named the Alexa Fund after the voice that assists users on the company’s Amazon Echo platform, the venture capital stream aims to fundamentally improve the way that people use voice technology, including to control lighting.
The Alexa Fund will offer financial help to independent developers and device-makers who wish to advance voice technology, be that through creating new Alexa capabilities, or by expanding the boundaries of voice technology through development and research.
As part of the Fund, Amazon has launched the Alexa Accelerator, which aims to encourage start-ups to bring their voice technology aspirations into a concrete reality.
Companies are chosen after a rigorous selection process and are then invited to take part in a 13-week program in Seattle, where they get the opportunity to work with leading technologists and product leaders from Amazon and Techstars.
The Alexa Fund has already helped a number of start-ups, including Musaic, a voice activated, wireless HiFi system that allows users to integrate smart lighting to react to a particular playlist or song.
The Fund has also invested $35 million in the smart thermostat system Echobee, £5.6 million in the Alexa powered video intercom Nucleus and has made a further million-dollar investment in Rachio, a smart sprinkler system.
The Alexa Fund has been labelled as a ‘stealth takeover’ of the smart home market by Amazon and it is possible that future smart lighting apps and devices may be developed with Amazon money.
At major technology shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show in the United States, Amazon were not obviously present. However, Alexa technology could be found in numerous third party devices from lighting systems, to home security cameras and cars.
Nevertheless, despite Amazon’s surreptitious attempts to conquer the smart lighting market, the company does face stringent opposition from the likes of Apple’s Homeworks, Google’s upcoming Brillo and Samsung’s SmartThings.
But for now, Amazon is the logical choice for third party Internet of Things start-ups looking for investment and that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.
- In an upcoming webinar, Lux will be examining how wireless communication is changing lighting. The webinar will take 19 April 2017 at 1pm (UK) 4pm (UAE) 8pm (Hong Kong) 7am (CDT), you can find out more and register to attend by clicking here.