Alexa Together: A new service for helping seniors: Talking Tech podcast

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Hey there listeners, it's Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. If you used Amazon's Alexa, I will only be saying this name once by the way, because I don't want to trigger anyone who has an Echo speaker, but if you've used Amazon's digital voice assistant, obviously it's got many different ways it can help you play a song, set a reminder, set an alarm. Now Amazon's digital assistant has a new role, helping seniors and caregivers.

On Tuesday, Amazon launched Alexa Together, which is their effort to help aging consumers, as well as caregivers, family members, or friends who are helping take care of someone. It's a subscription service, it costs $19.99 a month, $199 a year. Amazon is currently offering a free six month trial for a limited time. I write about this in a story that you can read on tech.usatoday.com.

The subscription service requires an Alexa-supported device. Sorry, I said that again, such as an Amazon Echo speaker or the Echo Show. These are some of the features that this new subscription offers. There's an urgent response option, so it gives users access to 24/7 emergency hotline. They say the name call for help, and then a trained professional will hop on the line and determine whether the person involved needs police help, fire department, or an ambulance. Some of the other features that it has as well include a fall detection response. This is in partnership with third party services, so if someone's wearing a device and say, they fall, your speaker will wake up and then ask whether the user wants to make an urgent response call.

Caregivers can get help with this too. They can receive activity alerts, so that tells them when a senior that they're caring for, whether it's a parent or another loved one, is up and moving around. They also have the option to remote assist, which is basically, if you want to add a reminder, say about a doctor's appointment, or if you want to add contact information, you can do that independently and that'll be available for your loved one.

Obviously we've seen these voice assistants become a key part in our day-to-day activities and it's the same thing with Amazon, which launched their digital voice assistant in 2014. We've seen them pop up in different forms, whether it's through Apple, whether it's through Google, they have served us very well in terms of helping us with basic information on search, again, setting alarms. I think that's what a lot of people like to do is set timers and alarms and things like that. That seems to be one of the more common uses, but I am really fascinated by this use case where it gives you an opportunity to care for someone who may not be close to you, but you have a sense of, or a way to, just check in on them, make sure they're okay. I think it's very useful and I think it's going to be really interesting to see tech in terms of caregiving and especially with seniors, how tech can help ease that burden.

Obviously this is going to be just the beginning. I'm sure we are going to see this across other services as well. You can keep update on all of those findings and all that new information as it comes out on tech.usatoday.com.

Listeners, let's hear from you. If you have any comments, questions, or show ideas, any tech problems you want us to try to address, you can find me on Twitter @BrettMolina23. Please don't forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. And don't forget, if you want tech news sent straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the Talking Tech newsletter. You can do that at newsletters.usatoday.com. You've been listening to Talking Tech. We'll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alexa Together: A new service for helping seniors: Talking Tech podcast

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