Hey, roomie, I’m Alexa: Saint Louis University putting 2,300 Amazon Echo Dots in student housing


Amazon Echo Dots at Saint Louis University will come with a SLU-specific skill to help students. (SLU Photo)

Students headed back to school at one university this fall will be getting to know a new kind of roommate in residence halls and student apartments — Alexa.

Amazon and Saint Louis University announced Thursday that the private school will be the first in the U.S. to bring virtual personal assistants to every student residence on campus. SLU will be setting up 2,300 Echo Dots.

The Dots will also provide students access to an exclusive SLU skill, made possible by Alexa for Business and n-Powered, which will provide answers to more than 100 custom questions related to various aspects of student life including sporting events, library hours, concerts, speaking engagements, directions on campus and more.

“Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on their education,” David Hakanson, the University’s vice president and CIO said, said in a news release.

SLU settled on Amazon’s device after a pilot project in which the Echo Dots were placed in 20 residence hall rooms and a competing device was used in another 20 rooms. The Dot received the most positive feedback from students, according to the university.

“I think it’s really innovative,” said Katlyn Martin, president of SLU’s Student Government Association, in a SLU story about the program. “By interacting with technology in a cool way, our students will have another resource to find things to do on campus …”

SLU has a web page dedicated to questions students might have about Alexa in their dorm rooms, including whether they should be concerned about privacy and whether they can mute the Dots.

Arizona State University also brought Dots to campus last summer in a program aimed at engineering students living in a specific residence at the school. ASU also employed a school-specific skill meant to enhance student life.

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