What makes Voice First special for older adults?

No one made the case of voice technology for older adults like Heidi Culbertson did at Voice Summit (I’ll leave the link of her talk in the episode notes – 92). Coming from a personal experience Heidi had one of the best talks I assisted about voice first design, and although it was directed to older adults, it had insights for designing voice apps including everyone in the loop. And I got interested. In this episode I’m going to outline some of the opportunities for the future of voice first for older adults.

The differences between Voice First technology and prior technologies apply to all users. For seniors, it’s a leap forward. What has inspired senior communities to start their pilots and programs? According to the The Future of Voice First Technology and Older Adults 2018 report, they see that Voice First is easy, cheap, useful, smart and connected.

This are the areas where the report foresee more opportunities:

  • The setup stage: provide an out-of-the-box setup for the uninitiated. What about an Alexa in the box or a Google Home in the box, pre configured for senior living firms?
  • Multi modal, design for older adults should include as many options as possible, so when voice only is not enough, touch can become a second option.
  • Reactive and proactive Are you ok : Should the device be proactive rather than only respond to a wake word? One example is developed by LifePod Solutions, in pilot with Commonwealth Care Alliance, – it can be configured to initiate speech without a wakeup word, including “It’s 4:00, did you take your Lasix?”
  • Supporting caregivers. “Users found it helpful to hear their loved one’s voice in emergencies.”  A Voice First medical alert device could bring the sound of a loved one’s voice and perhaps visual image to the caregiver, boosting confidence that all is okay. If Siri can step up, with the improvements Apple just announced to the Apple Watch for trip detection and heart rates, devices like the Apple Watch can become an interesting offering for vulnerable populations.
  • One of the obvious one, as highlighted in one of the Echo Spot ads, where a family install an echo spot for an older adult and then they can see and talk each other. VoiceFirst can help mitigate social isolation of older adults.

As we continue to live longer and healthier, assisting older adults is one of the ways companies can leverage voice technology to provide better care.

Thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe, like, comment and share this episodes. My name is Mari, and you can find me on Twitter as voicefirstlabs and on Instagram @voicefirstweekly, follow us, the more you follow the more we love.  Thank you for listening and you have a great day!

About the Author voicefirstlabs

The ultimate resource in the voice space. Conversational interfaces, voice interfaces, smart speakers and smart assistants, voice strategy, audio branding.

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