Amazon.com is opening up the microphone technology used by its Echo home speaker to other hardware makers for free, a move that seeks to spread the reach of the company’s artificial-intelligence assistant, Alexa.

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Amazon.com is opening up the microphone technology used by its Echo home speaker to other hardware makers for free, a move that seeks to spread the reach of the company’s artificial-intelligence assistant, Alexa.

Owners of Echo devices interact with the Alexa cloud-based software by speaking commands and questions. Hence the importance of the seven-microphone, circular array that Amazon puts in its Echo device.

The mikes, and the software that controls them, are designed to hear instructions from afar and cut through domestic hubbub ranging from juice blenders to screaming children.

Amazon will share this technology with other device makers via an invitation-only program.

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Amazon’s promotion of its Echo and Alexa technology comes amid stiffening competition in the voice-activated artificial-intelligence world from the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Giving other manufacturers a free ride on its technology might undercut the sale of Amazon’s own Echo devices. But it’s a long game. Amazon might consider that it’s a risk worth taking to make Alexa the dominant voice interface, giving Amazon increased presence in every household.

Analysts with RBC have estimated that Alexa could become a $10 billion business by the end of this decade. About half of that estimated revenue could come from the sale of Alexa-enabled devices, but also from consumers ordering products from Amazon’s site by talking to Alexa.