Amazon wants to expand Alexa beyond Echo

Amazon wants its voice-controlled personal assistant, Alexa, to spread far and wide beyond Echo, the all-hearing, all-knowing tubelike computer. Echo is connected to the cloud-based service Alexa, and Amazon now wants everyone else to connect, as well.

The company is encouraging everyone from corporations to hobbyists to build it into their next projects, and it's doing so by giving away its SDK (software development kit) and API (application programming interface).

"Today we are giving you the ability to create new voice-driven capabilities (also known as skills) for Alexa using the new Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). You can connect existing services to Alexa in minutes with just a few lines of code,“ Amazon's Jeff Barr said in a blog post.

The retailer also said it's giving away a $100m fund for companies working on voice control technology.

"The Alexa Fund will provide up to $100 million (£ 63.6m) in investments to support developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes who are creating new designed around the human voice to improve customers’ lives,“ the company said in the blog post.

The retailer said it also invested an undisclosed amount of money into seven companies working on a cooking app, a fitness gadget, toys, home monitoring systems, a garage door controller and a voice-controlled car assistant, The Guardian reported.

A number of high-profile companies have lined up to use the system, including AOL Intuit, StubHub and Glympse. For Amazon, the more people use the Alexa system, the better it will get and the more capabilities it will gain.