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Students Get Amazon Alexa – Electronic Voice-Controlled Assistants in University Campus Housing

It is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

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The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA

One American university is putting Amazon-electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

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In this March 2, 2016, file photo, David Limp, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices, pushes down on an Echo Dot in San Francisco. VOA

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered. The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “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 what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

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Bhavik Patel, a mechanical engineering senior and peer mentor at Arizona State’s community housing center Tooker House, demonstrates use of an Amazon Echo Dot while working on formulas. VOA

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

Also Read: Google Releases ‘Go Edition of Android 9 Pie’

“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said. (VOA)

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Smart Speakers like Alexa and Google Home to Act as Aid to Physicians during Surgeries

Smart speakers can be programmed to act as an aid to physicians in hospital operating rooms

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The application processes questions from a human voice and provides recommendations on the precise sizing of medical devices. Pixabay

Amazon Echo with in-built Alexa or Google Home smart speakers can not only play your favourite songs at home but can also assist doctors during medical procedures, say researchers.

Smart speakers can be programmed to act as an aid to physicians in hospital operating rooms, researchers said on Saturday during the Society of Interventional Radiology’s annual scientific meeting in Austin, Texas.

Smart home speakers offer a conversational voice interface that allows interventional radiology (IR) physicians to ask questions and retrieve information needed for their patient treatments without breaking sterile scrub.

During treatment, IRs rely on nuanced medical information delivered in a timely manner.

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Smart speakers can be programmed to act as an aid to physicians in hospital operating rooms. Pixabay

“When you’re in the middle of a procedure, you need to remain sterile, so you lose the ability to use a computer,” said Kevin Seals, MD, a fellow in interventional radiology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

This smart speaker technology helps us to quickly and intelligently make decisions relevant to a patient’s specific needs, added Seals, who is also the lead author of the study.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers at UCSF developed a device-sizing application for the Google Home smart speaker.

The application processes questions from a human voice and provides recommendations on the precise sizing of medical devices.

There are hundreds of devices, with more being introduced every day, making it difficult to determine the correct sizing or materials needed in every circumstance.

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Smart home speakers offer a conversational voice interface that allows interventional radiology (IR) physicians to ask questions and retrieve information needed for their patient treatments without breaking sterile scrub. Pixabay

“This technology allows physicians to concentrate more closely on the care of their patients, devoting less time and mental energy to device technicalities,” noted Seals.

ALSO READ: Should Live Broadcast on Social Media Platforms be Banned?

In developing the application, size specifications were acquired using literature reviews for 475 IR devices, such as catheters, sheaths, stents, vascular plugs and others.

“Further research will look to provide information from electronic health records and patient clinical data, such as allergies or prior surgeries,” said researchers. (IANS)