Amazon’s new ‘Care Hub’ lets Alexa owners keep tabs on aging family members – TechCrunch
Amazon today announced A number of new features aimed at making the Alexa devices more useful to older adults. With the start of “Care Hub,As an additional option in the Alexa mobile app, family members can, with their permission, keep an eye on older parents and loved ones for general information about their activities and be notified when the loved one has called for help.
The idea behind Care Hub, the company explains, is to provide security for family members who are concerned about the well-being of an older family member, while at the same time giving those family members the opportunity to maintain a degree of independence.
This is not a new use case for Alexa devices. The devices are already being used in retirement homes and other care facilities through third-party providers.
Amazon emphasizes that while family members can keep an eye on their loved ones’ Alexa usage, they respect their privacy by not offering specific information. For example, while a family member may be able to see that their parents were playing music, it won’t tell you which song was playing. Instead, all activities are displayed by category.
In addition, users can configure alerts when there is no activity or when the first interaction with the device occurs daily.
And if the relative calls for help, the family member known as the emergency contact can come to him via the Care Hub or contact the emergency service.
These new functions are double opt-in functions. This means that both the family member and their loved ones must first establish a connection between their Alexa accounts via an invitation process. This is started via the new Care Hub function in the Alexa app and then confirmed by SMS or email.
This may seem like adequate privacy protection, but the reality is that many older adults either have problems with technology or avoid them. Even seemingly simple things – like using a smartphone, email, or text message – can be a challenge at times.
That said, there are scenarios where one family member could set up the Care Hub system by accessing the other person’s accounts without their knowledge or by inventing an email that was just for that purpose “Parent’s Email ” becomes.
Alternatively, they could simply mislead mom or dad by saying they’ll help them set up the new Alexa device and – or similarh, can I borrow your phone to confirm something for setup? (Or some other such delusion.)
A more appropriate option for protecting user privacy is for Alexa to periodically ask the loved one if the Care Hub monitoring option is still enabled and notify the loved one via the Alexa mobile app that a monitoring option is still enabled.
Of course, there can certainly be older adults who appreciate the ability to be connected to family in this way, especially when they are some distance from their family or because of the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing requirements that keep family members, feel isolated from the opportunity to visit.
According to Amazon, Care Hub will be launched in the US. The company notes that it will learn from customer feedback in order to expand the capabilities over time.