Melissa Cha is helping shape the future of the smart home and smart health at Amazon

Staff Writer Mar 08, 2023
Smart Home

To commemorate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Melissa Cha, Vice President, Smart Home & Health at Amazon. Cha leads product development, software and services, applied science and research, design, creative, and business operations teams for Amazon’s smart home and health devices and services. 

Cha has been with Amazon for 12 years. She started her Amazon career at Lab 126 – the inventive San Francisco Bay Area research and development center that designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronic devices. Prior to Amazon, Cha worked in the mobile and wireless industries at HP and Palm/webOS. Melissa was a University Scholar at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in Economics with a concentration in Statistics and Data Science.

In this conversation, Cha talks about her work at Amazon, why partners should be excited about building with Amazon, and her advice to young girls looking to pursue technical careers. 

What are you working on at Amazon?

At Amazon, I like to think of myself and my team as inventing the next generation of ambient experiences for customers in their homes and for their health. We’re in the golden age of machine learning, and we’re optimistic about the potential of AI to serve customers and enable breakthrough experiences.

Let me illustrate this by speaking about our homes. We’ve seen incredible adoption in the smart home over the past few years—customers have now connected over 300 million smart home devices to Alexa. However, we can be doing so much more to make homes even smarter.  

For years, Amazon has had a leadership role in the development of new sensors, improvements in edge processing capabilities, and advancements in the state of the science in artificial intelligence. When combined, these make it possible for the disparate technologies in your truly “smart” home to work together on your behalf, seamlessly, behind-the-scenes. That’s why, today, more than 30% of smart home interactions are initiated by Alexa—without customers saying anything.

I’m also incredibly excited by our work on the Matter interoperability standard. Our teams are helping deliver high-quality Matter customer experiences for people around the world. We recently completed the first phase of our Matter rollout, allowing tens of millions of Alexa customers to connect their devices in even more ways. I’m excited to see how, through Matter and other initiatives, we are helping build a smart home that just works, allowing customers to use devices and services from different brands, creating a more useful home.

Why should partners be excited about building with Alexa?

I want to point to two compelling reasons that should get device makers really excited to build with Amazon. The first is our track record in continually furthering the state of artificial intelligence.  From Philips to TP Link and Sengled, we’ve seen partners work with Alexa to create entirely new and engaging ways for brands to engage with their customers.

I’d also like to point to how partnering with Amazon helps our partners grow their businesses in terms of driving increased revenue. Since 2020, Works with Alexa device makers have sold over 125 million devices worldwide. You can imagine how partnering with Amazon allows you to fuel growth, not only in terms of innovation, but also in driving sales through our online and mobile storefronts. 

What is your advice for young girls looking to pursue STEM careers?

I’ll draw on my personal life and say that young girls should follow their curiosity. When you see something that you want to understand better, keep asking why (at least five times and sometimes more!)—and be fearless. There’s such a wide world of possibilities out there. Also remember how technology drives improvements to society at large, and that STEM makes that world more understandable and accessible, and helps individuals, families, and communities build toward a better future.

Recommended reading

Alexa’s Kabila Williams is designing technical curricula with a vision for a more inclusive future
Announcing Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit features in preview, broader Matter availability, and new developer tools
How Alexa Fund Startup Syntiant is delivering next generation customer experiences with edge computing