What is Alexa?

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Toronto Makers,

Thanks for another amazing response to this meetup. We need to have an accurate count for food and beverages as well the venue's capacity to hold a certain amount of attendees.

If you don't plan on attending, please kindly un-RSVP and unregister yourself from the Eventbrite. We'd greatly apprecaite it.




What is Alexa? We will take you through what is happening behind the scenes when you engage an Alexa compatible device.

Alexa uses Deep Learning. Alexa is still evolving and we continue to push the envelope to make her more intelligent. We will give an insiders perspective into the challenges we face on a daily basis and how we utilize deep learning tools to solve them.


6:00 - 6:30 PM – Doors open and food

6:30 - 7:30 PM – Presentations starting with Al and Manoj, who will hand off halfway to Ruhi and Shiv.

7:30 - 8:00 PM - Q&A

8:00 – 9:00 PM - Networking


Shiv Vitaladevuni is a Senior Manager in Machine Learning at Amazon Alexa, focusing on R&D for Alexa family of devices such as Echo, Dot, Tap, FireTV, etc. His team develops features for Alexa such as wake word that listens for the word “Alexa” on the device and wakes it up. Prior to Amazon, Shiv worked on video and text document analysis at Raytheon BBN Technologies, and bio-medical image analysis at Janelia Farm, HHMI.

Ruhi Sarikaya is joined Amazon Alexa team as the Director of Applied Science in September 2016. Prior to that, he was a principal science manager and the founder of the language understanding a dialog systems group at Microsoft between 2011 and 2016. His group has built language understanding and dialog management capabilities of Cortana, Xbox One, Skype (Bots) and the underlying platform supporting both 1st and 3rd party. Before Microsoft, he was a research staff member and team lead in the Human Language Technologies Group at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center for ten years. Prior to IBM, he worked as a researcher at the Center for Spoken Language Research (CSLR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder for two years. He received his Ph.D. degree from Duke University, NC in 2001 in electrical and computer engineering. He has published over 100 technical papers in refereed journal and conference proceedings and, is inventor of 65 issued/pending patents. He has received a number of prestigious awards for his work, including two Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards (2005 and 2008) and two Research Division Awards (2005 and 2007) and a best paper award (ASRU-2013). Dr. Sarikaya is currently serving in the IEEE Speech and Language Technology Committee. He served as the general co-chair of IEEE SLT’12, publicity chair of IEEE ASRU’05, associate editors of IEEE Trans. on Audio, Speech and Language Processing and IEEE Signal Processing Letters. He has been giving keynotes in major speech and language technology conferences.

Manoj Sindhwani is working as Director of Alexa Language Technology at Amazon. In this role, he is responsible for ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition), NLU (Natural Language Understanding) and TTS (Text to Speech) run-time services. Manoj has over 30 years of industry experience in developing Voice Assistants, SmartGrid, SmartHome and VOIP products. Prior to joining Amazon, he was VP of Engineering at Tollgrade Communication, EnergyHub and Xtone.

Al Lindsay is the Vice President for Alexa Engine. He provides technical leadership for the entire team of engineers, product managers and machine learning specialists that are responsible for the runtime spoken language understanding systems that power Alexa and AWS LEX (ASR, NLU, and supporting services). Al has been with Amazon since 2004 and was previously a Director leading the Prime Technology team. Prior to Amazon Al spent time as the President & CEO of Alynsoft Inc. and held Software Director positions at Akara and Eftia OSS Solutions.