The largest engineering school in the country is betting on a big role for voice controls in the future of computing. In a partnership with Amazon, Arizona State University’s engineering school will offer three undergrad classes this semester on building skills for Alexa and other voice assistants, and will incorporate voice applications into its undergrad research and community service programs. Arizona State is also building its own Alexa skill for looking up campus info. And to sweeten the deal for engineering students, those who live in a new high-tech dorm on campus will be able to get a free Amazon Echo Dot.
The tie-up is another example of how tech titans are fighting for developer mindshare in the escalating virtual assistant wars. Just as mobile platforms lived and died by their app support, platforms like Alexa and Google Assistant need third-party voice skills to survive. By working with Arizona State, Amazon’s trying to win over potential developers before they’re even out of school.