Arizona State University will offer engineering students living in its new, high-tech dorm an Amazon Echo Dot in a "first of its kind" voice-technology program.
Amazon donated 1,600 Echo Dots to the program. Students moving into the engineer-focused Took House dorm will be able to use their Echo Dot to access ASU's new Alexa feature that provides information about the university and the campus. The Echo Dot is Amazon's smaller speaker that retails for $49.
In a blog post Thursday, ASU said it will also offer students courses on how to build voice-user interfaces with Alexa, the voice assistant that powers Amazon's Echo lineup. Three undergraduate engineering courses will be offered this semester that will add voice-user interface development, with a fourth course planned for this spring.
"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," Steve Rabuchin, Amazon VP of Alexa, said in a statement.
"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 program is opt-in for students, who will have access to the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) that provides a collection of application program interfaces, tools, documentation, and code examples.
Given how important AI-powered skills are on a smart speaker, it makes sense Amazon wants to help fuel the next crop of innovators with some Echo influence.