Amazon is hell-bent on shoe-horning itself into your parents or grandparents’ home. Delivering drugs to retirees by drones is not enough, clearly, because the company announced the Care Hub on Wednesday. The hub allows caretakers of the elderly to check-in using Alexa devices and the Alexa app. The Care Hub arrives ahead of the holidays and as many areas brace for another lockdown, offering a new avenue of connection with usefulness beyond the pandemic.
You’re only kind of spying on grandma — There are obvious privacy concerns with opening up Alexa devices to people who don’t live in a particular home, from strangers and family members alike. Amazon takes this in stride by requiring two Alexa accounts to be linked via request where both parties must opt-in. Of course, someone with an “I know best attitude” could secretly set up the connection without the consent of their loved ones — potentially a problem for both Amazon and a local therapist.
Once connected, the caretaker only receives a vague rundown of their loved one's activities. Instead of knowing exactly what song or podcast they’re listening to, caretakers only know they’re consuming entertainment.
Drop in from afar — This connection also expands the "Drop In" feature, historically used to create an intercom-like system within a home. If your loved one deviates significantly from their usual routines, you’ll get an alert allowing you to call or Drop In. This obviously works better if there’s an Echo product in every room to help you locate them.
The Care Hub offers an alternative to other care options and a more modern system than the beloved, laughable Life Alert. Now, if they fall and can’t get up, they can ask Alexa to call for help. This along with the Drop In feature doesn’t account for those who don’t like their devices to be always on, and if they feel that way, they likely won’t take to being monitored all day, every day.
The Care Hub is rolling out to U.S. users today, and Amazon acknowledges that it has room to grow. Hopefully, that room gives the elderly a little more control.