Amazon Opens $45,000 Alexa Skills for Seniors Competition
Amazon has launched a contest offering $45,000 in prizes to the developer of the best Alexa skill for people over 55. The competition was announced at this year’s Alexa Live event and is open to any Alexa developers interested in creating a skill for older people living independently or in senior living communities.
The contest follows Amazon’s rollout last fall of an Alexa Smart Properties program designed for senior living communities. The system enables administrators to manage the communities via Alexa, much as the voice assistant does in hotels and theme parks. Alexa Smart Properties created the senior living variation to help streamline setting up and managing these systems and set a foundation to build Alexa skills aimed at older people. Patients or long-term guests Community members can use Echo smart speakers or other Alexa-enabled devices to pull up schedules or menus and call the management. The platform can serve as the basis of HIPAA-eligible Alexa skills built by the organizers or the developers competing in the new contest.
“We are inviting all developers, designers and tech-for-good enthusiasts to build Alexa experiences for the age 55-plus population,” Alexa director of B2B and developer engagement Kelly Wenzel said in announcing the contest. “This is your opportunity to build delightful Alexa skills for this large and diverse older adult cohort and compete for more than $45,000 in prizes. We’ll share more information on the developer portal soon.”
Voice apps and related experiences are increasingly in demand for seniors regardless of their living situation as the tech becomes more ubiquitous and better adapted to the needs and interests of older people. That’s why the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). recently gave out free ElliQ robot companions from Intuition Robotics to 800 older adults living independently and why Minnesota nursing homes have begun experimenting with using AI-powered robots as care assistants. Amazon has been eager to take a leading role in the trend. For instance, the company introduced 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. The Alexa Together tool soon followed, adding an optional Remote Assist feature to set and share reminders and shopping lists.