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Help Managing Diabetes is Just a Voice Command Away

Alexa helps manage diabetes

Image credit: Pexels


Alexa is shifting from managing playlists to helping manage disease.


Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is nothing short of life-changing. You have to modify what you eat, get used to daily medication, and be hyper-aware of any changes in your skin, weight, and blood sugar. It’s not an easy thing to live with by any means.


Most of the time, those with type 2 diabetes will be treating themselves at home. Here is where it’s the hardest to manage and they could really use someone to remind them of their treatment regime. For an increasing number of people, that ‘someone’ is Amazon’s Alexa.


With around 28 million people in the United States living with type 2 diabetes, voice technology offers itself as a convenient solution to help them navigate all the new changes in their lifestyle. With Alexa becoming a familiar presence in homes, we can leverage her AI to assist those struggling to self-manage their condition. To explore the ways Alexa can help, Amazon, Merck Pharmaceutical, and Luminary Labs set up a challenge.   


The Alexa Diabetes Challenge


The Alexa Diabetes Challenge called on innovators to create a voice-enabled solution using AWS services (Lex, Polly, IoT) to improve the lives of people dealing with type 2 diabetes. This was uncharted territory and would set the path for using voice technology to manage other chronic conditions.


On Luminary Labs’ website they state, “From reminding people of their nutrition plans to scheduling their insulin dosages, the Merck-sponsored Alexa challenge will call on developers to push the boundaries of voice technology for people with diabetes.”


The challenge kicked off in April 2017 with a grand prize of $125,000. Submissions poured in and five finalists were eventually chosen. From virtual nutrition assistants to help with meal planning, to NASA-licensed AI to detect at-risk behavior and alert care teams – the judges had their work cut out.  


Ultimately, the Alexa Diabetes Challenge winner was SugarPod by Wellpepper with their treatment management app along with a voice-powered scale and scanner to detect diabetic foot ulcers (a common condition).


A new age of self-managing disease with voice


Voice-enabled solutions to help manage chronic diseases is gaining traction. With AI taking leaps and strides in healthcare, we can expect Alexa to take on a much more serious role than just turning off our lights or skipping songs.


To learn more, join Dario Rivera, a Healthcare and Life Sciences Solutions Architect with AWS, for his talk at VOICE on what happened during the Alexa Diabetes Challenge and how you too can improve people’s lives through voice technology. (Wellpepper will also be there.)


Speaking of VOICE, it’s coming up fast this July so make sure you have your full (or one day) pass to join the largest voice tech event of 2018. There will be keynotes, hackathons, networking over good beer, and more voice tech experts than you can count. Intrigued? Learn more about who’s going and what’s happening here!  


Follow VOICE on Twitter to get the latest news, event updates, and the occasional geeky joke.

Alexa, Voice Technology, HealthTech

Jenny Medeiros

Written by Jenny Medeiros

Jenny is an engineer turned tech writer with hands-on experience in VR, AR, video game development, and UX-focused web design. Nowadays, she partners with tech companies to help explain emerging technologies simply. When she's not writing, she's likely daydreaming and forgetting her tea.

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