Amazon says that for the past five years since they launched Alexa, they have been studying how people are using their digital assistant. One trend they noticed is that people have been using it to remind them to take their medication. So now they have partnered with a pharmacy chain to help make this a useful skill already. In other news, Amazon is also introducing “emotions” and new speaking styles that developers can use when integrating Alexa to their app or service.
But first, let’s start with the new Alexa Skills for your medication. They have partnered with Omnicell, a medication management solution to make this feature available for customers of Giant Eagle Pharmacy. If you have an account with the retail pharmacy, you have to activate the skill and then link your account to the app. Once you complete the set-up, you can just say “Alexa, manage my medication” and then you can start setting up reminders and what kind of medicine you need to take.
When you get a reminder, you can ask “Alexa, what medication am I supposed to take now?” in case you forget. And if you’re running out of your medicine, you can also say “Alexa, refill my prescription” and it can make the purchase immediately from the pharmacy. In case you’re concerned about your privacy, this medication management feature is protected with multiple levels of verification to protect all your information.
As for Alexa getting emotions, Amazon has launched some new features for developers to improve the digital assistant’s interaction with users. You now get emotions and new speaking skills that are powered by Amazon’s Neural Text-to-Speech technology. You can now make Alexa respond in either an excited or disappointed tone and in three different intensities: high, medium, or low. This can enhance skills like for games or any app that can benefit from having a not-so-neutral Alexa.
You can also get Alexa two new different speaking styles for variety. There’s a news anchor type of voice which will be good for reading news items or headlines. The second style will make her sound like a radio DJ which can be good for music-related skills or apps as well as anything that makes conversational announcements. If you’re interested in implementing any of these emotions or speaking styles, head on over to the Skills Kit blog post.