Amazon's Alexa, the virtual assistant who's taking the world by storm, has an exremely strong Indian connection: she was created by Rohit Prasad and his colleague, Toni Reid.
In 2014, when ecommerce platform Amazon launched smart speaker Alexa, it took this 1970s concept to another level. A combination of artificial intelligence and speech technology, Amazon Alexa sold 2.4 million units in the first year itself. The product, which is garnering a solid fan base, is the brainchild of Ranchi engineer Rohit Prasad, who along with his colleague, Toni Reid, led the team at Amazon.
An alumnus of Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Rohit graduated with a degree in electrical and communication engineering. A native of Ranchi, where his family still resides, he then moved to the US to pursue his masters in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. This is also where he took a liking towards speech technology, says The Better India.
In 1999, he joined BBN Technologies and worked with them for 14 years in R&D in speech recognition, natural language understanding, and machine learning. During his tenure, he grew from a Staff Scientist to Deputy Manager and Senior Director of Speech, Language, and Multimedia Technologies in 2011. In 2013, he joined Amazon as the Director of Machine Learning. He became the Vice President of Alexa Machine Learning and Speech in May 2016, and currently leads R&D in speech recognition, natural language understanding, and machine learning.
Rohith was listed on Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2017. He was also up on the Recode List of 100 People in Technology, Business and Media along with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sundar Pichai, says Business Standard.
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