Amazon today announced the formal launch of the Alexa Together subscription service, which is intended at families that are caring for older relatives who are still living independently but require additional assistance. The functionality, which was first announced at Amazon’s autumn 2021 event, builds on the company’s existing Alexa Care Hub product and bundles it into a $19.99 per month or $199 per year subscription service.
The Alexa Care Hub was Amazon’s initial attempt to integrate Alexa devices in the house into a tool for caring for elderly relatives. That service offered a set of features that allowed family members to keep a watch on their elderly parents and other loved ones — with their permission — and that could be customised to certain actions, such as if the family member had requested help.
Alexa Together builds on the Care Hub feature set by combining access to an emergency helpline, fall detection response features, a remote assist option that allows family members to manage settings on the elderly person’s device, and an activity feed for family members that notifies them when their loved one is active — engaging with Alexa or other smart home devices — or when there’s been a lag in that normal activity.
The features are intended to be utilised in an opt-in consented context, which means that both parties must complete the sign-up process simultaneously.
If the system is set up correctly, the elderly person can say “Alexa, call for help” whenever they need assistance. A trained agent on the other end will be able to summon the police, fire department, or ambulance to their location, similar to how certain home security systems work. The Alexa Together system, on the other hand, can integrate with third-party devices from Assistive Technology Service (ATS) and Vayyar to identify if a customer need emergency assistance due to a fall and provide proactive aid.
Vayyar Care is a wall-mounted sensor that can detect when a person has fallen, while SkyAngelCare by ATS is a fall-detection pendant worn around the neck by senior citizens. Both can detect a fall, with the latter being able to do so if the consumer clicks the help button on their pendant. More device manufacturers will be added to Alexa Together over time, according to Amazon.
A family member can use the Remote Assist set of capabilities to control various settings on the older person’s gadget. Setting reminders, adding contacts for calls and messaging, adding and checking items off a shopping list, and connecting to a music service are all examples of this. Instead of asking the older relative to call Amazon for support, the family member can provide IT assistance.
The activity feed will notify family members that their elderly loved one has begun their day and had their first interaction with Alexa or other linked smart home devices via the activity feed. This is an imperfect technique for determining whether a family member is doing okay because it expects that they will interact with Alexa on a regular basis. However, if there has been no activity, the stream will send an alert, alerting a family member to contact their loved one and make sure everything is fine.
Customers can try the subscription service for free for six months to see if it is a suitable fit for them. From today through December 7, 2022, existing Alexa Care Hub subscribers will receive a free year of Alexa Together.
Amazon says that in the future, Alexa Together will be able to support many carers, such as family, friends, and even neighbours, among other functions.
Amazon has stepped up its efforts to use Alexa to assist the elderly and infirm. In addition to Care Hub and Alexa Together, the business announced last fall that Alexa would be coming to hospitals and senior living communities such as Atria and Eskaton, as well as hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai, BayCare, and Houston Methodist. K4Connect, Lifeline Senior Living, Aiva, and Vocera are among the partners who will be able to use Alexa Smart Properties tools and APIs to develop specific solutions for the aged care industry, according to the business. Amazon has been striving to make Alexa’s medical skills HIPAA-compliant and has built out a healthcare team to negotiate additional HIPAA requirements in order to make these solutions possible.
While many of those existing elderly care solutions are designed to be provided in a business-to-business (B2B) setting, Alexa Care Hub and now Alexa Together are subscription-based services that target the consumer market.
Alexa Together works with Alexa devices that enable it, including as the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show, and is offered as an add-on service or as part of a device package.