Voice technology carries enormous promise, as many people know from their interactions with Alexa, the voice service that powers devices like Amazon Echo. Our teams here at Amazon are working to unlock that potential, but innovation requires a collective effort, from large companies like ours to two-person startups, and from casual hobbyists to major academic institutions.
We’re excited to announce the Alexa Fund Fellowship, a new program to support universities and researchers focused on transformative voice technologies such as text-to-speech, natural language understanding, automatic speech recognition and conversational artificial intelligence.
Alexa Fund Fellows will receive funding, access to Alexa devices, and mentoring from an Alexa Science team member to develop an undergraduate or graduate curriculum around one or more of these disciplines. The year-long program culminates in a demo day where students can showcase their work for peers, university faculty and members of the Alexa team.
We’re also pleased to announce our first group of universities: Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California (USC) and University of Waterloo.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible in artificial intelligence, machine learning and speech science, and we believe more education and research among academic institutions is key to fueling progress in the space.
“Voice computing is no longer science fiction,” said Pearl Sullivan, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Waterloo. “With our intense focus on experiential learning and early innovation, this program with Amazon will enable our engineering faculty to use Alexa as a teaching tool for artificial intelligence topics on voice recognition and speech synthesis.”