Alexa Together Service Debuts, Calling on Advances in Remote Connected Eldercare

Alexa Together

The Alexa speaker turned seven about a month ago — old enough in internet years for Amazon to launch its Alexa Together service, which connects seniors and caregivers, on Tuesday (Dec. 7).

First announced during Amazon’s fall hardware event in September, Amazon Together replaces the previously free Alexa Care Hub with a new subscription service that adds key features for elders, special needs users, caregivers and loved ones. Offered as a six-month free trial and then priced at $19.99 per month or $199 per year, Alexa Together is a big step in Amazon’s connected home strategy.

As Toni Reid, vice president of Amazon Alexa, told USA Today, “what we were really humbled by is that there’s a lot of customers who maybe are less tech-savvy and/or have special needs and were getting a lot of benefits out of Alexa and the far-field voice technology. It inspired us to think about this customer segment in a dedicated way.”

As The Verge reported, among the standout features of Alexa Together “are Urgent Response and a fall detection capability. This adds 24/7 hands-free access to a professional emergency helpline, allowing the user to say ‘Alexa, call for help’ to an Echo speaker and be connected with an agent. The agent can then request the dispatch of police, the fire department or an ambulance, and Alexa also sends a notification to the designated caregiver.”

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Valuable New Features, Subscription Bundles

For the home user, all that’s required is an Alexa-enabled smart device such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show. Caregivers are able to monitor elders and others needing remote care on smartphones using the Alexa Together app.

Though it’s going from free to subscription-based, popular preexisting features like “Drop In” and video chat are supported in the new Alexa Together package. Current Care Hub users will reportedly receive a free year of Alexa Together service before a subscription is required.

Fall detection is one of the new features getting the most buzz. CNET reported that “Alexa Together incorporates fall detection from two third-party companies, Assistive Technology Service (ATS) and Vayyar. Vayyar Care is a wall-mounted sensor that can detect when a fall occurs. SkyAngelCare by ATS is a fall-detection pendant worn around the neck. When Vayyar Care detects a fall or the loved one presses the SkyAngelCare pendant button, Alexa receives a signal to ask if they would like to call Urgent Response.”

Other new features include activity alerts showing caregivers that an Alexa Together user is active and engaging with the system, but without disclosing the nature of their interactions.

Remote Assist allows authorized caregivers to do everything from set reminders to create shopping lists to program music, only after they’ve been given permissioned access.

Amazon has begun promotions for the service, bundling the Alexa-enabled Echo Show 8 video touchscreen device with a six-month free trial of the Alexa Together service for $94.99