LifePod is Taking Reservations for ‘Proactive’ Voice Assistant and Smart Speaker for the Elderly
Healthcare AI developer LifePod has begun offering early access to its proactive virtual caregiver ahead of an anticipated general roll out this fall. The voice service aims at improving how caregivers monitor and support aging patients or those living in social isolation.
LifePod’s voice service adds a new dimension to virtual assistants by creating a proactive dialogue. To enable what LifePod calls the “proactive voice,” the system relies on a unique smart speaker created by iHome. It’s then a simple, quick process for caregivers to personalize a care routine. LifePod can then engage with care recipients, for instance proactively asking them if they’ve remembered their medication, or reminding them about their doctor appointments. It will also keep caregivers updated in real time about how well they are following the care plans.
This is different than traditional smart speakers that must wait for a user to make a request before interacting. LifePod can initiate the interaction and it can be personalized by the caregiver’s knowledge of the user. By then connecting with caregivers, it becomes a virtual part of the caregiving team.
“Our special sauce is the power of proactive voice,” Patterson said. “The assistant is adapted to the user. The breakthrough that is LifePod is that it’s five minutes for the whole setup.”
LifePod requires users to acquire the new iHome smart speaker coming out with the voice assistant. Though the devices won’t arrive until autumn, LifePod is offering 1,000 spots for reservations. Much of the language processing and other elements of the voice assistant are built upon a third-party service to drive the voice assistant, although the company could not disclose which, but existing hardware is not able to offer the features unique to LifePod.
“The big difference is instead of being built on the Alexa stack and AVS it’s built on an open smart speaker,” said LifePod CEO Stuart Patterson in an interview with Voicebot. “The iHome device has special firmware capable of supporting proactive interactions. We’ve been in discussion with some of the major names for some time. But, it would require major changes in the architecture and ecosystems.”
The conversational AI built into LifePod is flexible, but there are plans already to improve it. Disease-specific dialogue templates and responses based on sensors in wearables and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices are all in the works.
“Aging people will be healthier and will be able to stick to [care plans] as though their caregivers were always there,” Patterson said.