The Digital Line (TDL) is working with Hampton Care Home, Canford Care, tech giant Amazon and advanced wireless technology specialists WDSI to begin a four-week case study of voice assistants for residents of the Richmond borough home.
This will see the introduction of technology for the benefit of both residents and staff, focusing on two areas: bedridden residents and those in the dementia unit.
Starting with a basic set of skills, the intention is to assess the suitability of the Amazon devices to manage small tasks.
For the bed-bound residents, phase one will see simple tasks such as turning lights on and off, tuning into a favourite radio station and asking for the latest news alerts evolve into more complex instructions such as channel hopping (via the Amazon Fire TV stick), music selection and potentially even calling relatives and care workers from their rooms via the devices.
“By starting slowly, we hope to integrate the devices seamlessly into the lives of the residents, being careful not to disrupt their environment. The best technology is often invisible and enables rather than intrudes,” says TDL Director, George R Vaughan.
“As the study continues, we will look to introduce further, bespoke skills to empower the residents and perhaps also free up some time for the care workers.”
Currently, many of these tasks require a care worker to be present, and they cannot always respond immediately. With Alexa, the resident can take back an element of control.
Canford Care Manager, Laura Dowd says: “Hampton care are very excited to be working with Amazon and The Digital Line to explore the benefits that Alexa can bring to residents who are less able to get out and about or attend regular activity sessions. The response from the residents has been very positive, if not a little bemused, and I feel this will go a long way towards enhancing the quality of their lives.
“We may even discover more practical uses for the technology as the case study evolves. We are constantly looking at ways to improve the lives of the elderly and are open to technological advances and applications at Hampton Care as part of that process.”
Tech firm WDSI is providing a closed network to facilitate full connectivity and CEO, Andy Coney adds: “We take connectivity for granted these days and I often have to remind people that without it, none of this great technology would work. We are proud to be involved in one of the first projects of its kind and we are really excited to see the results.”
The voice assisted market has been growing rapidly since Amazon first launched its Alexa device in 2014 and a recent study by Juniper Research has predicted that speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and the recently released Sonos One will be installed in over 55% of all homes by 2022.