Amazon today introduced Care Hub, a way for people to monitor the activity of older adults or people who wish to live independent lives but may need assistance from friends or family. Care Hub works through and Alexa-enabled devices like Echo speakers, including the ability to ensure that if a device hears “Alexa, call for help” that it can automatically call an emergency contact. Echo devices do not allow people to call 911, but Care Hub means so long as far-field voice recognition picks up a voice it can call a designated contact.
Alexa also allows friends or family to monitor activity feed they can view on a smart phone. Care Hub users can also send an automatic notification if the person being monitored fails to interact with an Echo device by a certain time of the day, according to Amazon VP Daniel Rausch.
Though it may not have been an initial focus of smart speakers typically used to tell people about the weather or play music, over time more people have added home security and smart speakers to the homes of senior citizens. For example, if for example a person falls and can’t get up, a potentially deadly event that increases in likelihood with age, Alexa far-field voice recognition can still be used to call a friend or neighbor.
In addition to Care Hub, Amazon today also introduced the Luna cloud gaming service and controller, a globe-shaped Echo Dot, a Ring home security drone, and the Echo Show 10 for $249, a smart display with a screen that swivels to follow the sound of your voice when using a voice command or taking part in a video call. In demos showcased in a closed virtual event today the smart display moves in a way that resembles the now gone home robot Jibo. The ability for a smart display to move to better frame video calls also competes with Facebook’s Portal device.
In recent years, Amazon has made moves to get deeper into health-related products and services. Earlier this month, Amazon introduced Halo, a wearable device with a paid fitness tracking service for analyzing sleep, activity, body fat percentage, and even voice analysis to predict a person’s emotional state or energy levels. Prior to that, Amazon launched AWS Comprehend NLP for medical records to the acquisition of prescription drug delivery company PillPack in 2018.
In other news at the intersection of Big Tech and healthcare, earlier this month Apple rolled out new watches with the ability to predict a person’s blood oxygen level, a metric helpful in detecting COVID-19, and Fitness+, a paid exercise service that pairs with Apple Watch and smartphones.