State Farm is developing a digital way to connect people to their ailing or aging family member, even when they are far from each other.
State Farm To Roll Out Alexa Skill For Seniors
State Farm has been developing the skill in the past couple of months. In a statement to CNBC, the insurance provider revealed that the skill will offer a list of activities and events for users when it rolls out sometime next year.
Mark Oakley, senior vice president of labs team at State Farm, shared that he came up with the idea to do the project from his and his siblings' experience trying to keep in touch with their father who lived alone. Their communications, he said, were done through phone calls and e-mails.
The Alexa skill is a way to coordinate care that, he said, will not be intrusive nor make the aging family member feel old. Together with State Farm's mobile app, the skill will create a "virtual circle of support, coordination, and communication at any time of the day while delivering experiences to the senior," the insurance provider told CNBC.
Oakley also promised future users that the company will not share data across business lines. This is to make sure that data will not be used to discriminate against users when it comes to insurance.
The company also plans to incorporate ways that will help seniors to bond with their grandkids.
So far, State Farm said that the upcoming Alexa skill will only provide reassurance to caregivers and family members. Adding health features such as medication reminders is currently not in the cards. Oakley also said that the company is only working with Amazon Echo right now, not other smart speakers.
"We liked the voice and touch elements, and Amazon is the leader in terms of market share," Oakley explained.
Helping Seniors Who Live Independently
Amazon is interested in technologies specifically for the aging populations. Since 2015, the e-commerce giant has been working with the AARP, a group that represents people aged 50 and above, to develop devices aimed at seniors.
A study by the U.S. Census revealed that older people will outnumber the young in the United States by 2030, a first in the history of the country. They said that in a decade, one in every five residents will be 65 years old or older. Many of them would want to stay at home and live independently.