Amazon launches Alexa Together to help seniors age in place

The new subscription service continues Amazon's push to tailor its vision of "ambient computing" for different communities -- including elderly people who want to continue living independently.

Amazon on Tuesday officially launched Alexa Together , a new subscription service designed to help elderly people live independently while staying connected to caregivers and loved ones. The service, first announced earlier this year, costs $19.99 a month or $199 per year. Customers can also sign up for a free six-month trial, while Care Hub customers will receive a free year of Alexa Together starting Tuesday.

The new subscription service continues Amazon's push to tailor its vision of "ambient computing" for different communities -- including elderly people who want to continue living independently. 

Earlier this year, Amazon decided to expand Alexa Smart Properties -- which creates vertical solutions for deploying and managing Alexa at scale -- to senior living communities. The tech giant was already working with service providers to bring Alexa to seniors, but the COVID-19 pandemic has driven higher demand for video-based communications and voice-activated functionality in senior living communities, Amazon said. 

Alexa Together offers an ageing customer 24/7 hands-free access to an Urgent Response professional emergency helpline. During an emergency, they can say, "Alexa, call for help," to connect with a trained agent who can request the dispatch of police, the fire department or an ambulance. When Urgent Response is called, Alexa will proactively notify a designated caregiver. 

The service also connects with third-party fall detection devices from Assistive Technology Service (ATS) and Vayyar. When a customer has fallen, it will prompt Alexa to ask if the customer wants to call Urgent Response and notify the caregiver. 

It also includes a "high-level activity feed" for caregivers and family members to monitor. It will notify caregivers every day when the ageing customer has their first interaction with Alexa or a connected smart home device. By the same token, it will notify them if there is no activity by a certain time. 

Amazon claims this feature was designed with the privacy of the ageing customer in mind -- it's only a "high-level" activity feed, so it doesn't go into detail about the customer's activities. For instance, a caregiver would be able to see if the client asked Alexa for entertainment, but not the song, podcast or Audible book they were listening to. 

There's also a Remote Assist feature that the ageing customer can choose to enable to let caregivers set up and manage Alexa features remotely.

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