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Georgia Tech testing Amazon 'Alexa' for smart dorm experience

A new pilot program is underway at Georgia Tech that is testing how students can interact with voice recognition services as part of dorm life.
Credit: Lucas, Liza

Georgia Tech students are putting Amazon Alexa's skills to the test in a new pilot program in Towers residence hall.

Swapnil Ald and his four roommates are part of the more than 170 students who received Echo Dots are testing the efficacy of using Alexa in the dorms.

"I ask her all kinds of stuff like weather, time, play music," Ald said. "I talk to her a lot, asking about our daily needs. Make a shopping list."

The pilot program is focused on integrating the latest technology into student life and being at the forefront of the "next frontier," according to James Pete, Dep. Chief Information Officer for Campus Services.

"The smart speaker, the Echo itself has become the catalyst for enabling a smart house," Pete told 11Alive. "We're thinking about how we can enable the smart residence hall room."

"Voice is kind of the next frontier, it's a disruptor," Pete said. "We're anxious to see the student reaction to the technology. I'm certain they will find creative ways to use it also besides the Georgia Tech-delivered skills."

In fact, the students' Echo Dot's are indeed customized to interact with Georgia Tech specific technology like the campus "Buzzcards," allowing students to quickly access information such as meal plan services. Meanwhile, students like Keshav Pandiri already brainstorming how Alexa's stills could be expanded further, perhaps adding information such as class or campus bus schedules.

"The cool thing is that the students themselves could program those features," Pandiri said. "Anything they see that's interesting, they could create and other students could download it."


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