Asked to offer examples of how he uses Alexa every day, Prasad mentions waking in the morning to news and weather on demand, plus a recitation of the traffic patterns and his daily calendar. "It's taken a lot of friction out of our lives and given me time to do other things."
For now, our conversations with Alexa are done in USA and United Kingdom English (applying local norms and idioms) and German. Prasad said the goal is to expand to other languages, but he didn't reveal timetables, nor what the next language will be.
In our interview, we asked Prasad to clarify privacy concerns expressed online by many Amazon customers—what exactly is Alexa recording of our home conversations? Is it picking up our entire dinner table chats, or just the ones that begin with the "Alexa" wake word?
"Just the wake word," he said. Amazon's recorder kicks in when it hears the word, after which the assistant is then programmed to respond and converse.
Amazon says the recordings are stored online, kept to improve the accuracy of results. Consumers can delete them — a consumer protection that Amazon also cites with its Amazon Echo Look. That new version of Echo, a $199 speaker with a built-in camera that takes photos to better advise on clothes purchases, raised some privacy hackles with its launch. It is, after all, an Internet connected device designed to sit in an owner's closet.
Keeping users' trust as they increasingly share their personal details with Amazon's intelligent assistant will be key, particularly as Amazon vies with its rivals for share of consumers' time and attention.
It will be a long road. While Prasad is optimistic, he admits the dreams will take some time to become a reality. That 20 minute conversation Amazon hopes we'll have with Alexa?
"We could cross the ten minute barrier now, but 20 minutes is extremely hard," he says. "This will be a long journey."
Watch: Alexa to generate $10 billion by 2020