Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe Arizona has outfitted some dorm rooms with Amazon Echo Dots. ASU appears to the be the first college or University to offer this option to students. Tooker House is new dorm for incoming first-year engineering students. The new students can choose to have an Amazon Echo Dot in their room courtesy of the University.
The Engineering Dorm is a Smart Move
Of course Amazon wants to introduce more young people to the Alexa voice assistant platform to start forming habits around the device. However, the selection of the engineering dorm doesn’t just drive exposure to future consumers of Alexa skills, it creates an opportunity enlist new developers on the platform.
Amazon has focused efforts on organically building out its developer community by supporting Meetups and training programs across the country. Delivering Echo Dots to future engineers is just another method of reaching out to a group of people that could evolve into Alexa skill developers. Sajana Ratnayake, an ASU School of Engineering Community Assistant, zeroed in on this exact point.
I am really interested to see what all of the freshman are going to be making with [the Amazon Echo Dots], especially them being engineers.
Amazon Supported the University Echo Dot Program
An article posted in ASUNow confirmed that Amazon supported the initiative to bring Alexa into college dorm rooms.
The ASU program, with support from the Amazon Alexa team, is designed to enhance students’ ASU experience by giving them touch-free access to information and services tailored to campus living — and prepare some of them to become leaders in voice-technology development.
Amazon vice president of Alexa, Steve Rabuchin added some comments about the program as well:
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. 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.
The article also noted that three undergraduate engineering courses this semester will “add voice-user interface development, with a fourth course planned for this spring.” There is an expectation that students will build Alexa skills in the classroom and independently. Sounds like a great opportunity for the students and for Amazon.