New Application Possibilities for Amazon’s Alexa in Healthcare and Social Sectors
Within the framework of its event series build.well.being, the St. Pölten UAS, together with experts, explores innovative application possibilities of Amazon’s Alexa in the healthcare and social sectors ranging from creating a virtual postman to supporting people with disabilities.
In addition, the participants of the “Alexa for Wellbeing Online Challenge”, which was supported by Amazon Web Services, Hilfswerk Lower Austria and the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired, developed new functions of the voice-operated assistant.
The best ones received an award at a live closing event online, which, among other things, included language-based training to support memory in dementia patients, or a function offering support and information during pregnancy.
Skills for Smart Assistants
The networking event, which was held online this year for the first time due to the current situation, featured keynote speeches by experts from the technology, healthcare and social sectors as well as hands-on workshops. Under the guidance of experienced mentors, the participants were familiarised with the development of new “skills“ (language applications) for Amazon’s Alexa.
Equipped with the technical know-how, the interdisciplinary teams dived into creating and realising new application possibilities of the new smart voice-operated assistant.
The Winning Projects
There were five winning projects at the online closing event:
- “Gedächtnistraining“ (Memory Training)was especially developed for people with dementia to enhance memory performance through simple exercises.
- “Easy Groceries“ assists the elderly or those who cannot leave their houses due to illness in doing their shopping.
- The team “Wunschkind” (Planned Child) developed a function to support women and couples during pregnancy and provide information on the current week of pregnancy or the child’s development status.
- The function “Briefträger” (Postman) aims to facilitate communication between people: letters can be dictated and sent to another person via Alexa.
- “Rauchfrei leben” (Smokefree) helps people to give up smoking through a mixture of motivation, distraction and information.
You can also find the winning projects online at buildwellbeeing.fhstp.ac.at.
Pioneering Work in Digital Healthcare
“At our live event, we provided a platform for pioneering work in digital healthcare to bring together health experts, technicians and students as well as start-ups and established healthcare companies“, says Jakob Doppler, Academic Director of the master degree programme Digital Healthcare and coordinator at the Center for Digital Health Innovation at the St. Pölten UAS.
The experts included Bernhard Kadlec, commercial director of the St. Pölten–Lilienfeld University Hospital, who talked about using the virtual assistant in the operating theatre and in patient communication, and the surgeon and Vice President of the Telemed Austria Association Andrea Vincenzo Braga, who gave an insight into applied telemedicine.
“Virtual assistants such as Amazon‘s Alexa pave the way for making digital services accessible to all in society. There is still untapped potential as our challenge demonstrated. Our participants developed promising new application possibilities with much spirit of innovation, creativity and know-how,” says UAS lecturer Andreas Jakl, who initiated the online challenge.
AWS (Amazon Web Services) supported the event by providing learning resources by AWS Educate and the Alexa Skills Kit and by holding lectures at the hackathon, where participants could gain technical know-how and learn the AWS “Working Backwards” methodology. The winners received Amazon Echo awards.
Master Students Presented their Projects
In the framework of the closing event, students of the interdisciplinary master degree programme Digital Healthcare at the St. Pölten UAS had the opportunity to present their current projects in condensed pitching sessions. These included PENguin – a pen, which, in a playful way, assists primary schoolchildren in learning to write – as well as a health platform for primary healthcare patients, and a portable stand system to perform standardised one-on-one teletherapy sessions. More information can be found at showreel.mdh.fhstp.ac.at.
The partners of the event were AWS, Hilfswerk, the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Voiceflow, and Mobility Builders. The event was supported by the Digital Innovation Hub OST and the European Region Danube-Vltava.