They have many names – virtual assistants, smart assistants, digital assistants, AI agents, and such – but they are here today to serve a human. Specifically, to amplify our thinking, heighten our creativity, provide physical and intellectual help when needed, speed up and scale lengthy and bulky operations, personalize our experiences, etc.
These days you can expect a virtual assistant to turn on and off smart devices, tell you a joke, brief you on weather, news, upcoming deliveries, and meetings, remind you to call your mom and put a shopping list together – all while you are listening to your favorite music that was, by the way, arranged by your smart assistant as well. Based on the 2018 survey conducted by Statista, 45% of people use smart assistant in their homes. Even accounting for those who drop this service today for privacy reasons, I would not be surprised to see that number go beyond 50%. People love the convenience and ease that these digital agents bring into their daily lives.
Top virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa are evolving with each passing year to bring even more comfort and convenience into every household. Developers and engineers work on adding new skills and features, making the assistants even smarter, faster, and closer in their “personality” to a human.
With all that being said, imagine that these assistants can go beyond their typically requested skills. These agents can help the aging population to receive help or companionship when needed. They can tell you a joke, brief you on local news, ask you how you have been doing, and if they catch any changes in your tone or day to day movements around the house, call up your relatives. The smart bracelets, chest, head, ear wearables can continuously record your health metrics and communicate atypical numbers to your immediate family or doctor. These assistants can become digital aids for the elderly or those who need extra assistance in their day to day routine.
Patients with Alzheimer’s can get a memo every morning to inform them who they are, what family they have, and what year they live in. The power of repetition without any giggle or smirk can allow these people to live better lives without putting too much burden on their caregivers.
Individuals with Autism can certainly benefit too. By providing constant prompting to a child or an adult who needs a constant reminder and verbal stimulation to complete an action, a virtual assistant can become an indispensable part of the therapy. The assistant can guide an autistic individual when it comes to necessary activities like washing hands after using the bathroom. It can also provide verbal reinforcement by telling the individual their name, address, school, phone number, or family member they live with to ensure that the individual knows his or her identity.
The combination of 5G network and tech wearables equipped with sensors and haptic feedback can guide a visually impaired person on the streets, stop an autistic child from crossing a road on a red light or going into open water, or inform a wheelchair reliant elderly about approaching lousy storm and the need to seek shelter. Think about the positive economic impact this technology can bring. Home care can be assigned only to those who need bed rest and cannot function without the medical device’s support, whereas those who need assistance will have it anytime or anywhere they go.
Thank you for reading.