The university said it was the first such institution to put smart speakers in every residence. Other schools either placed them only in specific living spaces (say, rec areas) or only made them available on request.
These Echos don’t carry an extra cost. SLU promises that it didn’t hike tuition to cover the costs, either, as it took advantages of partnerships (including Amazon) and capital funding. And before you ask: SLU isn’t tying access to individual accounts or collecting personal information. You won’t get to use it for shopping, but you also won’t have to worry that the university is gathering personal info.
Is it something of a gimmick? Maybe. There are some genuinely practical advantages, however. It’ll provide students around-the-clock access to campus info without having to call a help line or dig through a website. That could reduce the load on SLU’s staff and free them to answer questions that an AI helper can’t (currently) solve.