Accenture pilot leverages AI and Alexa to assist the elderly

accenture alexa elderly care
Image credit: Accenture Liquid Studio

Accenture says it has completed a pilot program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and digital-assistant speakers to help elderly people manage the daunting challenges of navigating care delivery and improving their well-being.

The Accenture Liquid Studio in London developed an AI-powered platform that can learn user behaviors and preferences and suggest activities to support the overall physical and mental health of individuals ages 70 and older.

The Accenture platform, which runs on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, includes a ‘Family and Carer’ portal that lets family and caregivers check on the individual’s daily activities, such as whether they have taken their medication or made new requests for caregivers. The Accenture platform can also spot abnormalities in behavior and alert family or friends, based on user defined permissions.

Other services provided by the Accenture platform helped participants find local events as well as potential new friends, encouraging them to become more active and social. It also gave them better access to reading and learning materials, music, daily exercises, appointment reminders and required them to confirm when they completed the assignment.

The services in the pilot were delivered via the Amazon Echo Show digital assistant.

The Accenture platform was tested over a three-month pilot period, from August to October 2017, with a focus group of approximately 60 people aged at least 70 years old and living independently. A further 20 participants brought the Echo Show into their homes to interact with the technology in a more natural environment. The testing phase helped identify some of the most challenging tasks within the home and aided in the development of solutions built into the Accenture platform.

The Accenture platform’s combination of voice activation, on-screen prompts and underlying cloud-based AI technology provided the participants with new ways of doing a range of tasks and extending their well-being. In building the platform, Accenture used the self-service Amazon Alexa Skills Kit to customize the AI to power the devices and employed advanced secure cloud technologies such as AWS Lambda and Amazon S3.

“With the help of Age UK London, we identified the more common challenges of everyday life for older people – from setting daily reminders to the heartache of loneliness – and applied AI to create a human-centered platform to provide support and assistance,” said Laetitia Cailleteau, head of Accenture Liquid Studio London.

Accenture says feedback from pilot program participants has been positive.

According to Age UK, the UK faces challenges with delivery of care for older citizens. Misallocated resources cost UK taxpayers an estimated £173 million (around $273 million) per year. Elderly care programs such as this initiative could help reduce those costs by allowing caregivers to provide support remotely and supplement in-home visits. In addition, loneliness is a pervasive problem, with 200,000 older people in the UK going a month or longer without having a conversation with friends or family. The Accenture platform helped to address this by bringing people together virtually and in-person.

“Older people are not a homogenous group – the ageing experience is very personal, with each person having different needs, and we now have technology that can deliver an increasingly personalized experience to them,” said Paul Goulden, Age UK London’s chief executive. “The elderly care pilot has helped show how technology can improve the well-being of older people. The potential here is huge.”

Accenture plans to expand this advanced in-home care platform to more elderly people across the UK.

In the United States, Accenture recently developed a voice-activated physician-search capability for Amazon Alexa, making the task of finding a physician as simple as asking Amazon Alexa for help. Accenture has contributed the code to the open source community for further development.

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