With back to school quickly approaching, today we consider how smart speakers and assistants can help students to perform better in their studies and advance their educational careers. From pre-school to pre-med, smart assistants and displays can help students to quickly look up facts and information that can enhance the quality of their work.

If you’ve been thinking of bringing a smart assistant into your home but are hesitant to finalize the deal, there’s no better time than the back to school season, because there’s no better reason than to help the students in your home. Read on for several tips and tricks on how the scholar in your home can become a better student with the help of this modern device.


The Smart Assistant as Research Tool

One of the many great things about smart assistants is that they can help users with research on virtually any topic or school subject.

For instance, Amazon’s Alexa (the smart voice assistant that comes with the Amazon Echo) has over 15,000 different Skills that you can use for a variety of different purposes. In the sphere of education, for example, you might use a Skill from the History Channel called ‘This Day in History,’ which will inform you of key historical facts and events from whatever day in the past you wish to learn about (not merely past instances of the current date).

Similarly, if you’re studying Astronomy, you might wish to employ the NASA Mars Skill to find out what’s currently happening with one of our closest planetary neighbours. This particular Skill keeps you informed as to what’s up with the Mars Curiosity Rover, as well as giving you other useful information about the Red Planet.


If you happen to prefer the Google Home smart assistant to one of Amazon’s models, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll enjoy access to a voice operated calculator (to help you double check your math homework), a dictionary (to broaden your written language skills), and a translator (if you happen to be studying a foreign language). Google can even help you out by taking notes for you, which is sure to come in handy when you’re compiling data for a special project or essay.

Other features you’ll benefit from with pretty much any voice assistant is the ability to search for information simply by asking a direct question, the ability to set a timer to help you stay on a specific study schedule, and the ability to set an alert to remind you when you have a test to study for or an assignment coming due soon. For most students, any of these tools could be a real life saver when it comes to staying organized and managing a hectic schedule of classes or a heavy workload of assignments.

Of course, being in school isn’t only about work and studying—sometimes you’ve just got to relax a little. For this, voice assistants are also invaluable tools. For example, they can play your favourite tunes, help you make calls to your friends over Wi-Fi, give you the coming week’s weather report, keep you informed of news and current events, tell you who won what hockey game (and by what score), and even help you to order a pizza or tell you how long the local mall is open.

Any of these reasons on its own is a great argument for making a voice assistant part of your school supplies this year; With all of them put together, the decision to buy a voice assistant is practically a no brainer.


The Advent of the Smart Display

Over the last couple of years, we’ve witnessed the emergence of an even better kind of smart voice assistant—the smart display!

These smart voice assistants offer all the benefits of smart speakers, but with the added benefit of a built-in viewing screen for you to not only hear all the useful information you’ll be asking about, but also to see it. In other words, you can see all manner of images and video that will enhance the user experience of interacting with your smart voice assistant.

This includes benefits like seeing a visual depiction of the upcoming weather forecast, step-by-step recipe directions, box scores from your favourite sporting events, or even entertaining or educational YouTube videos. Many people also enjoy listening to their favourite tunes while watching the official music videos, or participating in video phone calls with far away family and friends.

Top models in the smart display realm include the Google Nest Hub (with Google Assistant), the Amazon Echo Show 5 (with Amazon Alexa), the Facebook Portal 10.1″ and Portal+ 15.6″ (both with built-in Alexa), and the Lenovo Smart Display 10″ (with Google Assistant). There’s also an 8″ version of the Lenovo Smart Display if you prefer something just a little bit smaller.


Now that you know what a smart assistant can do for the scholars in your family, as well as what’s available from the major players in the market, all that’s left to do is choose the model that’s right for you. Whether you prefer a model featuring Alexa or the Google Assistant is entirely up to you, but be sure to do your research first by visiting their Best Buy product pages.

For more great back to school ideas (and I don’t just mean smart assistants), visit Best Buy Canada’s back to school essentials page and start planning the school year now!


Leonard Bond
Leo enjoys writing about everything from secret agents to tech toys and gadgets to professional hockey. Find his reviews and other product related commentary right here on the Best Buy Blog and his latest hockey rants at www.hockeycontroversial.com.