Last September Amazon announced Alexa Together, an elder care subscription service. On December 7, Amazon launched Alexa Together with a free, limited-time six-month trial. The same day, Vayyar Imaging announced its launch of Vayyar Care, the company’s touchless fall detection solution. Vayyar Care is compatible with Alexa Together.Alexa Together combines several features designed to support elderly persons, with benefits for their family, friends, and caregivers. The Alexa Together platform includes 24/7 urgent response, remote assistance, senior’s activity tracking with configured caregiver alert thresholds, and fall detection response. Alexa Together fall detection currently requires either Vayyar Care or SkyAngelCare by ATS. SkyAngelCare by ATS is a fall-detection pendant activated when a customer presses a button. After the free six-month free trial, Alexa Together costs $20 a month for a monthly plan or $199 for an annual subscription.We first wrote about Vayyar’s 3D radio frequency scanning see-through technology at CES 2017. Vayyar’s initial consumer product, the Walabot, is a handheld device that incorporated the sensor chip. The initial release was for developers who wanted to check out the technology’s potential for various applications. At the initial launch, Vayyar stated its interest in smart home applications where the Walabot could detect movement, falls, heart beats, and respiratory rates. In 2019 we covered Vayyar’s Walabot Home, an elder care platform designed for people living at home or in independent living facilities. A separate product, Vayyar Home, is optimized for senior living communities.Vayyar Care is a touchless fall detection solution that uses wall-mounted 4D radio frequency sensors to monitor the surroundings. The device works in all lighting conditions. Vayyar recommends placing a Vayyar Care sensor in any room such as bathrooms or bedrooms where falls often happen and where seniors often do not want cameras. When a Vayyar Care device detects a fall, it signals a compatible Alexa device such as an Echo Dot smart speaker or Echo Show smart display. The Alexa device asks the customer if they want to call the Alexa Together Urgent Response helpline and alert a designated caregiver. If the customer doesn’t answer, Alexa makes the call unless the user cancels it within 30 seconds.Each Vayyar Care device has a range of 13 feet to the front and 6.5 feet to either side. Nayyar recommends one in a bathroom, one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one or more in the living room depending on the room size. Each unit costs $250 . The user also must have at least one Alexa compatible device and an active Alexa Together subscription. Initial setup requires a smartphone to configure the Vayyar Care device with a Wi-Fi network and with the requisite Alexa device. Some users may need assistance with the initial hardware installation and software configuration. After installation, however, the user can communicate with the device via Alexa’s voice interface. It’s noteworthy that the Vayyar Care device does not work in stairwells. Also, currently the device might send a fall alert if the customer takes a bath. Finally, the company states that Vayyar Care is not suitable for users with dogs or cats.We suspect that Vayyar will solve the issues with bath and pets in time. The system can get pricey in larger living quarters and it will not work if the power or WiFi goes down. The system does require a bit of setup knowhow, but should not be overly challenging for anyone who can install a printer or add an Alexa device. It will be interesting to see if Google, Meta, Apple, or other mega-tech companies will respond with platforms that serve a similar purpose. Currently, the Alexa Together Vayyar Care solution supports just one user and one caregiver contact, but reading between the lines in the Alexa and Vayyar materials we suspect those capabilities will expand over time.
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