Alexa, when is my next exam? University gives Echo Dots to students

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Northeastern University in Boston has developed an Alexa skill that can help students keep track of everything from the time to tests.

The university decided to give each student an Amazon Echo Dot after successfully piloting the initiative with 64 pupils. The Dot’s Alexa personal assistant can help students organize their day, check their finances and more.

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The Husky Helper skill (named for the university’s mascot), knows about each student’s course and their timetables. Students can make requests like setting an alarm before their first class, as well as ask what events are happening on campus. They can also link the skill to their finances.

“Planning is underway to make Husky Helper available to a larger group of students this fall.” Northeastern told GearBrain.

The university hopes that students can get the information they need from the Echo Dot without having to call a helpline. Students at Northeastern can ask Alexa about the weather, campus sports events, library hours and exam schedules, among other things.

“The magic of the whole thing… Is it’s instantly accessible,” Madeleine Estabrook, Northeastern’s vice president for student affairs, said at the Amazon Web Services Summit in Washington, D.C in June. “They don’t have to wait in lines or stay on the phone on hold. They can find exactly what they need for their personal problem at that moment and continue what they’re doing.”

“I used Husky Helper to figure out who my academic adviser was, which was really helpful, because my adviser changed three times throughout the semester,” student Elizabeth Hilli told News @ Northeastern.

The Echo Dot devices also work like typical Alexa smart speakers. 

“I’ve used it for a variety of reasons, including setting a timer for when I do my laundry and playing music.” Student Sophia Anderson said.

Students can always control what information the device can access. They can also refuse the Echo Dot if they don’t want it.

The Alexa skill asks for a four-digit code before providing access to Social Security numbers, bank account data and other sensitive information. This measure helps prevent roommates from using the Dot to gather personal information on each other.

Northeastern’s Alexa initiative comes after Amazon made a one-time donation of 1,600 Echo Dots to engineering students at Arizona State University last year.

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker, to see products that are compatible with Amazon Alexa.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Featured Image Credit: depositphotos.com.

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