Amazon and ASU Enter Into “First Of It’s Kind” Partnership With Voice Driven Alexa
“What times is my next class?” “When’s the next campus shuttle” those will likely be two questions Amazon’s Alexa fields this year as she’s moved into the dorm rooms of 1600 Arizona State University freshmen. Always a pioneer in the edtech space, ASU and Amazon have unveiled a new, first of it’s kind, partnership that began with freshman move in weekend.
GeekWire reports that Amazon donated 1600 Echo Dot devices that typically retail for $50 a piece to ASU. Those devices are being given to incoming freshmen that opt-in for a program debuting at the school’s new digitally focuse dorm, Tooker House.
Tooker House, which opened this week, will house 1600 engineering students and was built and designed for engineering students. Outside of the typical dorm amenities the dorm features state of the art maker spaces with 3D printers, laser cutters and soldering tools. It also has a computer lab with software and design tools specifically for engineers and enough bandwidth to accommodate every student having four devices.
Now, thanks to Amazon, it will also feature an Echo Dot for every student. The small version of Amazon’s virtual assistant has been outfitted with custom ASU skills so students can access information about school, academic schedules and campus life.
Students will be encouraged to hack away and teach Alexa new tricks, but also Amazon and ASU are teaming up to offer three undergraduate courses that teach new concepts focused on building voice user interfaces.
“With voice-enabled devices becoming more prevalent in our connected world, it only makes sense to bring these capabilities to our campus,” said John Rome, ASU’s deputy chief information officer. “By working with Amazon to create the first voice-enabled campus, we’re furthering ASU’s position as the No. 1 university in the U.S. for innovation.”
“We are excited to work with ASU on this program, which will power their voice-enabled residence hall with Alexa and equip students with the in-demand skills they’ll need when they graduate,” said Steve Rabuchin, Amazon vice president of Alexa. “The university shares a vision with us for the future of voice, and we believe it’s paramount to engage students in a way that sparks their imaginations and inspires them to build the technology of tomorrow.”
This is part of ASU’s evolution to a “smart campus”. It’s important to note that the Echo Dot program is opt in for incoming freshmen. Some privacy and security advocates have raised stinks about Amazon’s devices being deployed in mass scale, such as when Steve Wynn said he wanted to put Alexa into every room of The Wynn and The Encore casino resorts in Las Vegas.
Check out this video below from ASU.