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Alison Atwell

  • Age
    31
  • Title
    Voice user interface designer
  • Company
    Amazon

Industry: Tech

Before you say, “Hey Alexa,” say hello to Alison. A former journalist, Atwell is now a voice user interface (VUI) designer who is in charge of “training” Alexa and teaching her new skills. Though she’s certainly paving the way in technology, Atwell actually grew up on a nature preserve in northern Spokane, Wash. She spends as much time as she can outdoors and prefers to keep her own home a low-tech zone (she’s even gone without home Internet for years at a time). At Amazon, she helps companies big and small build products from the ground up, all starting with the concept of sharing information and tailoring Alexa’s responses to their customers. She’s worked with Disney, Best Buy, and companies like Sony Entertainment on voice-activated games like Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Rather than creating “magic words” for Alexa to respond to, Atwell says her goal is to facilitate a more natural interaction between Alexa and the user by helping Amazon’s voice-activated device understand how real people converse.

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40 Under 40

List Debut
2019