A local authority has revealed plans to pilot a customised version of Amazon’s voice-activated system to see if it can help support people for longer in their homes.
Hampshire County Council, which has teamed up with the web behemoth for the trial, hopes that the experiment with ‘Echo’ will ‘benefit the future of social care’.
Echo units are expected to be in 50 users’ homes by the end of the year, who will then be able to ask ‘Alexa’ to remind them of things, such as to stay hydrated and when to take medications (and no doubt from which popular web service to purchase everything they could possibly want).
The council also thinks the system could also be used to encourage people to keep fit, by doing things like suggesting local walking routes of different lengths. Additionally, partially sighted or socially-isolated people could ask Alexa for information about things like the weather, the latest news (or even where to buy all the latest books, CDs, DVDs, games, toasters etc).
Working with their partner Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership, Hampshire hopes the trial will lead to people living independently in their own homes for longer, while reducing social isolation.
Councillor Liz Fairhurst, the council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: ‘We are looking to trial this new technology with 50 adult social care clients in Hampshire, to help support and manage their needs within their own homes and avoid the need for additional care packages.’
Funnily enough, I was having a chat with an Echo unit the other day:
‘Where’s the tax office?’
‘Sorry, systems error, cannot compute. Shutting down’