As we discussed in the previous article, there is an increasing number of Helpful Smart Devices to ensure Better Health for the Elderly. Perhaps the most convenient and user-friendly of these involve voice assistants, which links naturally with the use of Artificial Intelligence. Google is putting increasing emphasis on this sector and its competitors will not be left behind. This is particularly important for seniors as we will demonstrate.
The Challenges That Seniors May Have
As they age, the elderly may find that some activities become more troublesome. It may not be as easy to move around. It may be more difficult to see images on a screen. You may find the layout of that screen somewhat confusing. Shaking hands may make it more difficult to correctly touch a button on the screen. Using your voice cuts through all these difficulties.
Why Voice Is a Good Way of Controlling Smart Devices
It is very easy to understand why voice is a preferable way of controlling the smart devices in your living space. You can do this instantly from where you are sitting. The complication for the smart device is that your instruction may not be clear. When a button is touched on a small screen, the choice you intend is very clear. What the smart device hears may be very much less precise.
There could be several reasons for this. Perhaps you are too far away from the microphone or your voice is directed in another direction. Maybe you mumbled or perhaps your instruction was slightly garbled. Could it be that your accent is not the natural one for the smart device? A good test of the challenges you may be giving your smart device is to dictate a text message on your smartphone. Even when you speak with a very clear voice, you may be surprised at what your smartphone hears and interprets.
How Artificial Intelligence Improves Voice Control
Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. If your smart device is to do what you want, then it must learn how to achieve that. Whenever it misinterprets your instruction, then your corrective action will show that it needs to learn what you really intended. This is the essence of Artificial Intelligence or as it is sometimes called Machine Learning.
This is a priority for Google as it explains on the Google AI website.
Bringing the benefits of AI to everyone
At Google AI, we’re conducting research that advances the state-of-the-art in the field, applying AI to products and to new domains, and developing tools to ensure that everyone can access AI.
Although Google is in the lead at the moment, its major competitors, Amazon and Apple, cannot afford to be left behind. The results of this corporate effort are impressive. This is the reason why Voice Assistants can be so effective even at the present stage of development.
What a Voice Assistant Can Do for the Elderly
If you have never thought about this, you may be surprised at just how many activities a Voice Assistant can help with. This is particularly important both for seniors and for those with disabilities. Here is a list of the most common activities that are possible with a Voice Assistant:
- Set reminders
- Check some action has been taken
- Set timers
- Show you messages and emails (or read them to you)
- Call people
- Set up a video conversation (like FaceTime, Facebook, Skype or Duo)
- Send a text message
- Check your calendar
- Check the time
- Check the time movies are playing
- Play your favourite music
- Show you a sports event
- Make a reservation
- Launch a fitness or other application
- Answer questions
- Perform calculations
- Perform conversions from one unit to another
- Change the settings such as volume
- Show you maps and directions
- Write a quick note
Voice Assistant Systems for Seniors
Voice Assistants are readily available via Smartphones, Smart Speakers or Smart Displays. The three most popular are Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri.
Although much can be done through these interfaces, systems have been designed specifically for seniors which are more user-friendly and provide functions addressing specific needs of seniors and their caregivers. Here are some of the main names, together with the descriptions they provide for their systems.
- LifePod provides an easy-to-use, 2-way voice service for older adults aging-in-place and chronically ill patients in their homes and their caregivers. Unlike traditional Voice Assistants, LifePod can be set up and controlled by a remote caregiver using an intuitive, online portal to configure and schedule proactive-voice check-ins, reminders, and other content providing virtual companionship.
- Ask My Buddy is a free service available on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice platforms. It enables to send a ‘check on me’ or ‘I’m OK’ notification to a Personal Alert Network, just by using voice. When you ask for help it makes a voice call, sends a text message, and emails to each of your predesignated contacts.
- ElliQ is a friendly, intelligent, inquisitive presence in your daily life – there for you, in your corner, offering tips and advice, responding to your questions, surprising you with suggestions – a dedicated sidekick on your journey through this remarkable part of life. ElliQ helps you make technology work for you to help you stay engaged in the world around you and helps family members stay close to you.
- LISA is a Voice Assistant that works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. It is super easy to use every day; all you need is your voice. It can help you send and receive messages. It can remind you of appointments or daily activities like taking medications or getting exercise, and it can even suggest activities or events in your community to keep you active.
- On Guardian is made with your life in mind. Stay updated and manage your caregiving while saving precious time. Your family will love you for it, and you will love yourself even more!
When a Senior Care Home needs to set up a Voice Assistant system for its residents, then it will use a system such as one of the following.
- Aiva leverages Amazon Alexa to intelligently process a patient ‘s requests, automatically routing them to the correct care team member on their mobile devices. Aiva will also provide entertainment and education to patients. Everything from playing music, hearing the news, and reading books to answering basic medical questions, greatly increasing patient satisfaction.
- Orbita helps healthcare organizations tap the power of voice assistants, chatbots, and other conversational AI technologies to engage patients, improve care, and reduce costs.
- Remindmecare App software uses reminiscence tech to enhance the lives of people with dementia, the elderly, their carers, families and support care businesses.
- Voice Friend is a simple yet powerful notification solution that enables Senior Living places easily keep seniors, staff and families informed of events and important information.
This whole sector is in rapid evolution and there will be many more facilities probably including robots. At a recent show, Samsung demonstrated its Samsung Bot Care, which promises even more help for seniors.
If you are a senior, a caregiver or someone setting up a senior care home and need more information about this topic, then please contact us and we will provide you with the latest information.
Further reading on this topic
A great deal is being written on this topic and the following articles are just a selection of what you will find.