To most college students, apart from academics, there are two near-universal worries: Getting across campus and getting fed. Fifth-semester computer science major Andrew Burns has helped alleviate those worries by using an Amazon Alexa.
What started as a simple program that read off dining hall menus for Burns and his roommates has grown to include a bus tracker and is now a “skill” available to Amazon Alexa users.
Burns said last year, he found himself waking up and wanting to know things like the dining halls’ menus, so he made a skill for his two roommates’ Amazon Alexas.
“It stopped working like a month or two in and, like, all of a sudden, I come back to the dorm and they were like, ‘What the hell happened? Why isn’t it working?’” Burns said. “And [while fixing it] I thought, ‘Maybe I should make this for everybody else, and I’ll add the bus tracker as well.’”
The skill can be accessed through the Amazon Alexa app. It works by simply asking, “Alexa, open myUConn,” followed by something like, “When does the yellow line get to Towers?”
His creation caught the attention of the student body after he posted on the Buy or Sell UConn Tickets Facebook group. The post had garnered 508 likes at the time of publication and was met with praise.
“This is incredible! I can lay in bed and find out what’s on the menu at any dining hall at UConn,” said one Amazon reviewer.
Currently, Burns is working on a system to track open parking spots using drones.
“We’re trying to use, hopefully, drones to monitor parking around campus, so people can see in real time if there’s a spot open and what lot to park at,” Burns said.
Though Alexa is available for use on most phones through the Alexa app, Burns also hopes to bring these capabilities to Google Assistant and Siri.
Screenshots courtesy of Amazon.com
Kazi Iqbal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.