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Sunday, 19 May 2024 12.31 AM IST

Thrissur native who made Alexa features smart; know more about Aparna Unnikrishnan

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Watching the revered Pooram while seated on her father’s shoulders, the caparisons and umbrellas marvelled young Aparna Unnikrishnan. This carousel of images and colors sowed seeds of desire into her mind which later made her enter into the world of designs.

This journey is now at a crescendo with Aparna now part of the leadership team at the device design division of the top-tier e-commerce magnate Amazon. The 39-year-old led the team that revamped Amazon's virtual voice assistant Alexa with features including artificial intelligence (AI) enabled widgets.

'It's about to rain... there will be a traffic jam... you have to get to the office early...' Alexa's new AI feature gives instructions like this. Alexa was relaunched four months ago with integrated visuals and widget features on devices.

Children's PTA meeting will be reminded; the shopping list will be displayed and food will be ordered through the Alexa application. As of now, almost five crore Alexa tabs have already been sold. Alexa's this new design feature was initially overseen by Aparna. Among the nine people in the group, she is the sole Indian representation. Aparna is also the head of design for Amazon's Fire Tablets.

Aparna who studied at Harisree Vidhyanidhi in Thrissur was aligned to paintings from a very young age. This craving for art and design made her join the National Institute of Design, Gujarat for an industrial/product designing course.

She later completed Master's from the US Illinois Institute of Technology in 2010 and became a designer at SC Johnson & Sons, an American multinational company. Aparna designed the company's famous 'Glade' air freshener products. In 2016, as a much-needed career jump, Aparna joined Amazon. Later she designed Amazon's sleep tracker Halo Rise and Echo Auto.

Aparna is married to Nikhil Mathew, a designer at Amazon. Children Natasha and Eva. The family lives in California.

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TAGS: APARNA UNNIKRISHNAN, THRISSUR, ALEXA, VOICE, ASSISTANTS, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, NIKHIL MATHEW
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