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Amazon Offers Alexa-Enabled Devices into Hospitals and Senior Living Communities

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The COVID-19 outbreak stirred the revitalization of health care systems of different countries. Major technology companies continue to develop products that will improve the quality of health services. Hospitals relied on these technology solutions for the continuity of essential health services even during the pandemic. 

In the US, hospitals and senior living centers asked the help of Amazon for the integration of Alexa programs in their facilities. Amazon’s two new programs will operate via Alexa Smart Properties. The program will allow an organization to control a centralized Alexa system.

At the onset of the pandemic, hospitals and senior living communities reached out to Amazon to help them establish Alexa and voice programs. Liron Torres, global leader of Alexa Smart Properties, talked about the proposed project during an interview with The Verge. The hospital needed help in interacting with patients safely, and retirement communities wanted to connect residents with family members and staff.  

What are the Advantages of Alexa-enabled Devices 

In nursing homes, the residents can use Amazon Echo devices to call their loved ones and be updated with community news. During the start of the pandemic, several facilities used printed announcements inserted through the resident doors. That was their method of informing the senior citizens on the changes in protocols and other important information. With the presence of Alexa, the staff would be able to send messages instantly into patient rooms. They can communicate with the patients through voice and video calls. Amazon believes that this innovation could make facilities more efficient and productive.

Through Alexa, patients can call a family member or friend without relying on facility staff. Authorized contacts would also be able to reach through Alexa. The facility could enable a calling function for a set of contacts approved by the resident and family members as soon as they are setted in. Two senior living communities expressed their interest in the pilot-testing of Alexa. Atria (which is nationwide) and Eskaton (located in California) will use Alexa at some of their facilities. However, Amazon did not mention how much the program costs those facilities. 

Amazon says that putting Alexa next to hospital beds will increase productivity because nurses need not often go into patients’ rooms. 

Meanwhile, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles), BayCare Health System (Florida), and Houston Methodist will soon use Alexa-enabled devices in their facilities. The devices will enable nurses to connect to the patients through calls and intercom-like drop-in features without entering their rooms. 

Some of the advantages of the Alexa-enabled devices are the following: 

  • Help the patients when asking for assistance from the nurses
  • Nurses could check on the condition of patients without entering their rooms. 
  • Alexa can also help the patients perform basic tasks, such as changing TV channels or playing music or a podcast. 
  • Patients can also turn on the “do not disturb” function to prevent unexpected visitors.
  • Alexa can also relay Hospital information and announcements to patients while lounging at the center’s lobby.

Amazon said that this would help hospitals to increase productivity and provide more personalized care. Hospitals will also conserve medical supplies and protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and gowns. Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage has become an issue in some locations at the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alexa Smart Properties aggressively offered innovative healthcare solutions, especially during the pandemic. According to Peachy Hain of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, voice is fundamental for patients regardless of age or tech-savviness. Alexa’s user-friendly features will allow the patients to reach out to the hospital staff and stay entertained. On the other hand, care providers can perform their tasks productively and allot more time for patient care. “It is a total game changer for enhancing Cedar-Sinai’s services,” Hain continued. 

The new Alexa Smart Properties solutions for hospitals and senior living communities will roll out in the US in November 2021. 

How Did Amazon Handle Data Privacy Issues?  

Although Amazon faced privacy issues related to voice recordings and transcription, the two new programs will not save the voice recordings. Amazon clarified that both programs do not require users to share personal information with Alexa when using the device. Users can also mute Amazon Echo’s microphone at any time. Amazon also claims that they protect health information received through HIPAA-eligible Alexa skill interaction. 

The technology solutions provider has been developing Alexa healthcare applications for several years. A CNBC report in 2018 had said that the company was creating a healthcare team with Alexa intending to make the voice assistant accessible. That is why Amazon has been working through the complex regulation mandated by the HIPAA (United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). 

In 2019, Amazon launched its first HIPAA-compliant devices and began pilot-testing in hospitals. Amazon also invested in other healthcare solutions like Amazon Comprehend Medical, a machine learning tool for gathering doctors’ notes and patient health records.

About Alexa Smart Properties

Amazon develops Alexa Smart Properties as a set of technologies that property owners and managers can utilize to manage Alexa-enabled devices according to their needs. Voice commands or Alexa custom skills can simplify tasks such as playing music, controlling in-room temperatures or lighting, delivering news or announcements, among others. These devices can increase productivity in businesses, hotels, homes, healthcare facilities, and senior living communities. 

Other Players in the Healthcare Industry 

Amazon is not the sole major technology firm that invests in the healthcare field. Microsoft announced $40 million worth of investments in AI for health programs earlier this year. Specifically, Microsoft plans to acquire a speech tech company to beef up its AI, cloud, and healthcare applications. Also, Google has worked together with other healthcare providers. They plan to open an office in Rochester, Minnesota, this year. Likewise,  Google partnered with Mayo Clinic for a plan regarding the enhancement of patient care. Google and Mayo Clinic also worked together for COVID-19 response initiatives. 

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Technology

How Can 3D Printed Nano Ink Change The Game?

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3D Printing and its uses have been essential towards the advancement of industries such as architecture and engineering, medicine, and automotive. Although it seems these industries have pushed the boundaries when it comes to inventions, there’s one material that can become a game-changer in creations. Learn more about what 3D printed nano ink can do and how it will shape the future.

A Quick Background on 3D Printing

When it comes to 3D Printing, plastic is one of the many materials widely used to create products. Examples of these are polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). These are materials that even consumers can get their hands on. Or create to produce everyday items or parts that will further enhance certain items. But some who operate 3D printers can also use metal or ceramics for various products or items. 

Epoxy and superglue are two examples of these bonding components used in shaping the final product. These are two durable materials. However, the 3D Printed Nano Ink can remove the use of these bonding components. After all, it has conductivity properties and tensile strength that will keep the finished product intact.

3D Printed Nano Ink

The 3D Printed Nano Ink will transform the printing method. Instead of relying on bonding components or composites to put materials together, the ink will do the job for you. And you can thank mechanical engineers from the Michigan Technological University for that. Parisa Pour Shahid Saeed Abadi and Masoud Kasarie are the two engineers who studied and found a way to produce nanomaterial ink on 3D materials.

The engineers used carbon nanotubes to produce the polymeric ink. That said, carbon nanotubes are known for their tensile and lightweight properties. If this becomes a widely used material for 3D Printing, the use of epoxy can be eliminated.

However, before polymeric inks become embraced in 3D Printing, it’s important to study this further on both a macro and nanoscale, which the two engineers have disclosed in the Michigan Tech News. Even so, they opened the doors further to explore properties like process and morphology to nanocomposite inks.

Benefits of Using the 3D Printed Nano Ink

Given that the nanomaterial will be of significant use to many industries, how can it change the face of 3D Printing as many know it?

Morphology is one aspect that puts the nanocomposite ink at an advantage. It helps those who use a 3D printer to create a shape they have envisaged before considering it as a final product.

Aside from the conductivity of their nanomaterial ink, it can also act as if it was an electrical wire in some products. Plus, despite its nano properties, it is both durable and lighter than other nanocomposites.

Aerospace, electronics, and medicine will greatly benefit from using 3D printed nano ink. For example, the tiniest damages may have a long-term effect on the product. The nanomaterial ink addresses that issue and makes the product resilient to other cracks and damages.

Only time will tell when the nanomaterial ink will make an impact in creating solutions for these industries. But it will transform product creation, and it could limit repairs and other issues that only the nanomaterial ink could address.

Possible Limitations Before Hitting the Market

Despite the praises for the nanomaterial ink, anyone in the industry wonders about its use and value. It is promising. However, the two engineers observed that the market value is less than that of other 3D printed-related fields.

There’s still a gap between applications of “3D Printing and nanomaterials and nanomaterial 3D Printing,” Abadi discloses in Michigan Tech News. Not only that, there are still limitations about its properties and morphology, which help in creating structure.

For other stories, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Business

The Shift Towards Banking-As-A-Service

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The changing times and the pandemic have created a significant shift in how we bank. In addition, our expectations from banks have also differed through the years. The digitalization of the financial services industry has furthered the plan to get free access to banking data. This is in connection with the Open Banking initiative and the dramatic rise of fintech companies and neo-banks.

The market space that the traditional banks once dominated has now given new players the opportunities to compete alongside them. Indeed, the commoditization of bank services has inevitably begun.

A void to connect banks and these new players has been filled in the form of banking-as-as-service (or BaaS for short) providers. It’s only logical that a service such as this emerges. It’s the order next in line to streamline the customer experience and provide products that are built to engage the modern world. 

What exactly is banking-as-as-service?

The easiest way to explain what banking-as-as-service is is through a few examples, these are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Lending systems
  • Credit card payments

The digital world is changing the relationships of brands and businesses with their customers. It is rapidly shifting and improving that even non-bank companies have already integrated financial services to their customers. Established companies such as Walmart, Apple, Uber, or Amazon have already been doing this to add value to their products and services.

Why businesses should take the banking-as-as-service opportunity

To those in the know, banking technology is a complex matter. Developing it from the ground up can be laborious and expensive. Add to that the challenge of getting a bank license which turns off those trying to get in that niche. What banking-as-as-service does is to connect businesses with banks that take care of the requirements and provide the technology they need to provide financial services through a slew of digital channels.

This process will make banking services more engaging and less transactional. Businesses can now integrate services throughout the buying journey without redirecting them to a different platform. This means customers will no longer do the rigamarole of going from one channel to another. They will get what they need when and where they need it.

And statistics show that it is working. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services are steadily climbing at a rate of 39% per year for approximately 10 million Britons making their online purchases. 

What now for traditional banks?

Since traditional banks have little appetite for risks, they weren’t built to handle the demands for embedded finance. BaaS companies make it faster and easier for fintechs and other companies to increase their offerings by embedding digital banking services directly into the purchase. Instead of seeing this as competition, traditional banks should collaborate with BaaS to benefit from this embedding.

What can Banking-as-a-service do?

With the help of banking-as-a-service, new players in the finance industry will have the capability of targeting niche communities and coming up with slimmer product sets. Also, the solutions that BaaS offers can give valuable insights to businesses on how they can improve their products or services. They will have the much-needed data to learn about industry trends, saving and spending behaviors, and general engagement with their offerings.

All these means that businesses can have more information on how they can improve the overall customer experience. This also means companies can deliver products and services that are more targeted towards the right customers. The possibilities that banking-as-a-service offers are endless in terms of innovation in the banking and financial services market.

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Business

Playrcart Gives You What You Want – Immediately

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We’ve all watched ads and immediately thought, “I want that. Right now.” Some of us wish we could jump right into the TV and into that sexy Ford F-Series quicker than we can have a second thought. But how many of us have gone to make a purchase only to be discouraged by the needlessly complicated payment process? “Too many,” says UK-based startup Playrcart

We believe this is the future of advertising.” 

Founder Glen Dormieux, along with CTO, Richard Mason, created Playrcart born of that very frustration.

What we’re seeing right now is fairly traditional – they’re doing the same thing time and time again.

Currently, when viewing an ad, you have to go through several pages in order to complete a purchase. How many sales are lost in that time-consuming process? “Too many!” say business owners in a Mr. Krabs-esque demeanor. 

How Does Playrcart Work?

Playrcart has designed its platform to convert digital assets into instant transactions within the ad itself. How is that possible? Technology, stupid. 

You can actually make the transaction go directly within the asset itself. So you engage with the ads, you interact with the purchase within the ad without ever leaving that same piece of content.

It effectively dilutes numerous clicks that you normally have to navigate through. The average of reduction clicks is about 75 percent.

With Playrcart, you can watch the trailer for a new Spider-man movie and buy tickets before it’s even completed. You can schedule a test drive in the Ford F-Series as you’re watching a professional drive it on a closed course. 

Consumers will now have the option to purchase something when their emotional response to an ad is at its peak. You can see an ad for a major event and as you’re riding that emotional wave you click and purchase tickets. As the ad concludes, you can emotionally conclude with it – satisfied. 

You can see Playrcart’s technology in action here

Playrcart is capitalizing on our instant gratification society, and they’re doing it with modesty and innovative advances in technology. 

We want to hit them instantly while you’ve got their attention.

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