Amazon’s Alexa has proved to be a gamechanger for AI technology. The virtual assistant that lets you control your device through your voice has become quite a rage in no time. However, not many people know that Alexa has a very strong Indian connection.
The techie with Indian roots
Rohit Prasad, who hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand, has created the game changing technology along with colleague Tony Reid.
Prasad attended DAV public school, Ranchi and completed his engineering from Birla Institute of Technology (BITS), Mesra in 1997. Later, he pursued his masters in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, US where he researched low bit-rate speech coding for wireless applications.
A maverick in Voice Recognition Technology
The Indian-born scientist joined Raytheon BBN Technologies in July 1999 as a staff scientist and rose to the rank of Deputy Manager and Senior Director of Speech, Language and Multimedia Business Unit in BBN Technologies in the next 14 years.
Prasad pursued an MBA degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan School of Management in 2008.
Prasad joined Amazon in 2013 as the Director of Machine Learning. He became the Vice President of Alexa Machine Learning and Speech for Amazon in May 2016.
He is at the helm of research and development in speech recognition, natural language understanding, and machine learning technologies aimed at improving customers’ experiences with Echo devices, powered by Alexa.
Star Trek, Inspiration behind Alexa.
The Indian techie was amazed at how the characters in sci fi series star war gave voice commands rather than pressing buttons.
“If you look at five years back, talking to a device from a distance, in the midst of a lot of noise, was just science fiction. We grew up in the Star Trek era, that was the inspiration for us”, he told Times of India.
Prasad was ranked No. 9 (and Reid No. 10) in Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business in 2017.