When it comes to Alexa, we’re quite used to calling on her for tasks ranging from cueing up a favorite music playlist, compiling a grocery list or getting our daily news digest while we brush out teeth. But Amazon recently upped the ante on what Alexa can offer with a subscription service aimed at a whole new audience: Elder care.
The service is called Alexa Together and its intention is to assist elderly family members (or anyone with special needs) with access to around the clock urgent response calls via their Amazon Echo or Show. In other words, in the event of an emergency, your relative can simply say, “Alexa, call for help,” and get access to a trained call handler vs. simply relying on a distant family member (who may miss the call) to respond.
Subscribers also have access to a hub that allows the carer to track an elder’s activity (i.e. you can keep tabs on use of the device so that you’re notified if your relative doesn’t log in to Alexa that day), streamline communication (the carer can keep tabs on shopping lists and add reminders and alerts) and detect falls at home (this last part requires the purchase of a compatible wearable device like Vayyar or SkyAngelCare). As the carer—and via the Alexa Together app—you also have the ability to “drop in” meaning you can use the Echo like a walkie talkie to communicate back and forth.
The service is a follow-up to Alexa Care Hub, which went live in 2020, but didn’t include special, subscription-only features like the 24/7 emergency call line. The cost? It’s fairly economical at $19.99 a month or $199 for a year although you get a free trial for six months when you activate a subscription.
I have to admit that I was intrigued by this pivot on Alexa’s elder care offering. It’s definitely a market that Amazon has been dabbling in, but hasn’t cracked the code on quite yet. Still, given the fact that Alexa Together requires the care of a loved one to utilize all its features anda third party device to detect falls—a critical use case—I’m not sure that it replaces a traditional medical alert bracelet, especially given that you have to be near your Echo to make use of it in an emergency.
Yes, Alexa Together can deliver an assist at home, but it still feels limited. As an added layer of protection, it’s not a bad option, but I’m not sure it can fully replace the value—and portability—of a traditional medical alert bracelet.
Alexa, keep iterating…