Amazon has officially launched its Alexa Together service, a new subscription-based option for caregivers and anyone who wants to keep tabs on the vulnerable people in their life. The new service revolves around Amazon’s IoT devices and its Alexa voice assistant, enabling caregivers to see when their elderly parent, for example, gets up in the morning, pop in for quick chats, and more.
How it works
The idea of using smart speakers (and now that they’re a thing, smart displays) to help an elderly or disabled loved one with their daily activities isn’t new. Amazon has embraced the trend, however, by launching a dedicated service that includes many of the features a caregiver may need.
Alexa Together offers Remote Assist, which enables caregivers to manage the recipient’s shopping lists, add reminders to their Echo device, link music services, and do similar tasks. The service also includes an activity feed that provides a quick look at how the smart devices are used and Alexa interactions.
As well, this service bundles in a 24/7 urgent response 000 that can call for assistance on behalf of the user. This is used, for example, to call for help if a supported device detects the user has fallen. A “circle of friends” can also be set up so that other family members or friends can participate in the caregiving duties.
Beyond that, Alexa Together also enables caregivers to create custom alerts; they can, for example, be used to get notifications if the loved one hasn’t used their Alexa devices in a while and to see when they first interact with the device each day.
Price and availability
Alexa Together is now available and can be used under a six-month free trial period. After the trial ends, Amazon’s service comes with two paid options: $19.99/month or $199/year, the latter of which works out to a slight discount at $16.58/month. The caregiver service is only available to customers in the United States.
Both the caregiver and the recipient will need their own Amazon accounts to use the service. The fall detection feature, meanwhile, only works if the user has a compatible device designed to detect falls. Amazon has 000ed with SkyAngelCare and Vayyar to support their third-party devices on the Alexa Together platform.
IoT devices for caregiving
Hospitals and nursing homes are among the facilities exploring smart devices and voice assistants as ways to better monitor and support patients and residents. Back in 2019, for example, LA-based hospital Cedars-Sinai kicked off a pilot program involving Echo Dot speakers and the Alexa-powered Aiva platform. The pilot program was intended to help patients call for their nurses, control their room’s TV, and more using voice commands.
Amazon has updated its Alexa platform with these sorts of usage scenarios in mind. In October, for example, the company revealed that it was adjusting the Alexa app so that its voice assistant would spend a longer duration listening for input. This change, the company explained, was prompted by feedback from some users who have speech impediments and need longer listening periods to use the assistant.