Senior Living Voice Assistant Startup Speak2 Family Acquires Rival Soundmind
Voice assistant for seniors developer Speak2 Family has announced it will acquire Soundmind and its similarly focused voice concierge for an undisclosed sum. Speak2 Family’s Alexa app is designed to aid older people living alone or in senior living facilities, meaning Amazon’s news that Alexa Smart Properties will support such facilities could lead to a major uptick in use.
Speak2 Family Alexa
Speak2 Family runs via Alexa as a central hub. Senior living facilities can use it to connect with residents and distribute community news. Residents can access the information and submit requests to the management. The voice app also serves as a simplified way to make and receive video calls. Both startups pursue broadly the same goal of helping seniors in their daily lives. Soundmind’s concierge adds its own set of activities and resources to go with similar communication functions. The Alexa Smart Properties news raises the potential opportunity for the company, which is why SoundMind’s customers attracted Speak2 Family’s interest as a way to augment its own client list.
“Customers need solutions that they can use based on the culture of the person communicating. Kids use apps on small screens, Gen X uses laptops, seniors can use their voice. Caregivers are juggling many tasks at once. Speak2 brings these people together in the way that best suits their role and existing way of life,” said Speak2 Family co-founder Jillian Guerra, who spun the solution out of Speak2 software last year. “The Soundmind customers are accustomed to a great user experience, and we can take that approach further by leveraging the Alexa Smart Properties senior living solution.”
Senior Living Voice
Demand for voice AI for older people living alone or in senior living communities has escalated since the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantines set up at many assisted living communities. On the individual level, Amazon created the Alexa Care Hub to enable people from one home to consensually use a loved one’s Alexa-enabled smart device to keep track of their activity and serve as an emergency contact for Alexa to call. This was followed a few months ago by the new Alexa Together tool, which adds an optional Remote Assist feature to set and share reminders and shopping lists.
Amazon’s approach with Alexa Smart Properties is designed to streamline the setup and management of networked Echo smart speakers or other Alexa-enabled devices. What Amazon adds is the option for localized information and communication features. Speak2 Family builds on Alexa’s existing services to perform similar feats.
“Speak2 is delivering state of the art experiences specifically designed for senior living,” Soundmind CEO Erum Azeez Khan said. “Their approach puts the heart of senior culture front and center, introducing new ways to engage with staff, family, and the local community. Designing technology for older adults is very hard, but they are doing it right.”
Speak2 Family isn’t alone in seeing how Alexa can help with senior tech services. In 2020, K4Connect distributed more than 8,000 Echo Dot smart speakers donated by Amazon to retirement communities on the west coast. More recently, K4Connect integrated its software for assisted living communities with the Amazon Echo Show smart display using Alexa Management APIs. The Alexa skill builds on the partnership with North Carolina Assisted Living Association (NCALA), placing more than 1,400 Amazon Echo Show 8 smart displays in around 1,200 North Carolina assisted living communities last year. Speak2 Family’s acquisition of Soundmind suggests the field is far from settled as more seniors and their caregivers turn to voice assistants as a solution.
“We are still tapping into all the possibilities it offers to transform the way we communicate and interact,” Guerra said. “The opportunities available through Amazon Alexa’s voice interface are endless, and both companies are ecstatic as they are sure it will continue to accomplish their mission of uniting and bridging gaps across generations and caregiving.”