Saint Louis University (SLU) in the U.S. has announced plans to put Amazon Echo Dot in every single dorm on-campus, and up to 2,300 Amazon smart speakers will be placed in total.
In addition to general Alexa skills which let users to ask questions, set reminders, listen to music and control smart devices, custom SLU-specific skill will be provided to the students.
The SLU skill can answer more than 100 questions, relating to sport games, concerts, speakers on campus, student events, organizations, library hours, etc. The skill is built by the university and n-Powered, a technology company that develops custom Alexa skills.
The Echo Dot devices in SLU are running on the Alexa for Business platform, which lets organizations manage voice skill access and data storage. The platform allows the university’s IT department to update the voice skill constantly without interrupting student schedules.
The university said it will expand the availability of music streaming options and a personal device wireless network on campus, which should be go live this fall.
“The students we attract are highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom. Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend on what matters most: their education,” said David Hakanson, vice president and CIO at Saint Louis University.
SLU piloted Echo Dots in 20 residence hall rooms and a competing device in another 20 rooms in the spring semester. After three months of testing, the Echo device received more positive feedback from students, according to the university.
SLU funded all 2,300 Echo Dots devices. The expenses are not added to the students’ tuition.
SLU isn’t the first university in the U.S. to bring smart speakers on-campus. Arizona State University provided Echo Dots to its engineering students in a specific residence, and created a specific skill for student life. Northeastern University also had a similar program and developed a custom skill to let students access sensitive records such as grades and financial aid.