State Farm Creates Amazon Alexa Skill to Improve Senior Care
State Farm and Amazon are testing a new skill for the Alexa voice assistant to help improve the quality of life for seniors. The skill connects family and caregivers to a user’s Echo Show device to help coordinate care and communication.
Connected and Personalized Care for Aging
The new skill doesn’t have an official name yet, but a pilot test is underway, with a wide release planned for some time next year. The idea is to use the technological tools offered by Alexa and Echo Show devices to support the senior citizen with personalized care and connection. According to State Farm’s research, two-thirds of people don’t feel technology today can help them care for a loved one, but more than half of them would like to have an app to help take care of aging family and friends.
The new skill combines with a mobile app so that the user can check in every day and everyone in the circle using the app will be notified. The Echo Show and connected mobile app will offer the senior a dashboard with daily activities and events listed, and suggestions for additional tasks and events to add. Family and caregivers connected to the senior’s device will be able to send photos and music to the Echo Show and communicate with the user and each other.
Voice Assistant Care
Companies are only beginning to explore the potential of using voice assistants to care for aging people. But, there are already signs that it could be a valuable vertical for voice skill developers.
Healthcare AI startup LifePod has created a proactive virtual caregiver debuting this autumn. LifePod’s system engages with care recipients before they say the wake word, asking them if they’ve remembered their medication or reminding them about their doctor appointments for instance. It then keeps caregivers in the loop, updating them in real-time about how well the user is following the care plans. A successful pilot test by the Commonwealth Care Alliance in Massachusetts has already scored a significant contract for LifePod, which will be providing its services to more than 500 members of the group.
To build their voice assistant, LifePod worked with iHome to make a unique smart speaker, because the standard devices offered by Amazon, Google, and other manufacturers could not support the proactive aspect of the product. That could change if State Farm and other companies see value in adding voice skills designed to help care for people’s aging loved ones.
Other companies are exploring related verticals. Pillo Health has developed a countertop robot that monitors and dispenses medication associated with chronic illness. It uses voice assistant access and a touch screen to also facilitate daily check-ins and notifications to caregivers and family members if medication isn’t taken. Stanley Black & Decker introduced Pria, a very similar device, at CES in January.