State Farm announces Amazon Alexa skill to help people stay in touch with older friends and family

Echo Show 5
(Image credit: Amazon)

Amazon is working with leading insurance provider State Farm on a new Alexa skill to make it easier for people to stay in touch with older friends and family members.

Alexa skills are best understood as voice controlled apps for Amazon's Echo range of smart speakers, and this tool is being developed specifically for the Amazon Echo Show.

The Echo Show features in our guide to the best smart speakers, distinguishing itself by way of its 5.5-inch touchscreen display, which adds additional functionality like video calling and playback.

Be alert, not alarmed

State Farm's Alexa skill will work alongside a companion mobile app, allowing Echo Show owners to share alerts and check-ins with their friends, relatives and caregivers. 

It will also recommend activities and provide calendar alerts for the user, like suggesting going for a walk on a nice day or reminding them of an upcoming doctor's appointment.

The hope is that the the skill will offer peace of mind to everyone involved and encourage better communication among families without being overly intrusive – even the best medical alert systems can feel like a burden to some independent seniors.

In a statement to CNBC, State Farm said that the Alexa skill was intended to create a "virtual circle of support, coordination and communication at any time of the day while delivering a personalized experience to the senior."

The auto, home and life insurance provider added that user data won’t be shared across its business, so it won't be a factor when it comes to insurance quotes.

At present, State Farm is only developing the Alexa skill for the Echo Show, not any of the other range of Amazon smart-speakers with an expected launch date of 2020.

James Laird

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.