When Amazon Echo was first launched in 2015, the voice-controlled, Internet-connected speaker had a handful of skills. Now, the Alexa-enabled speaker can dole out health advice about common ailments in children through a new app called KidsMD, which is powered by information curated by doctors from Boston Children's Hospital.
Developed by the Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) team at Boston Children's Hospital, the app is also available on other Alexa-enabled devices as well including Amazon Tap, Echo Dot, and Amazon Fire TV.
Parents who enable KidsMD on their Alexa device can now "decide whether symptoms like fever, cough, headache, rash, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, fatigue or shortness of breath warrant a call to the doctor," according to Boston Children's Hospital. Users can also ask for dosing advice for over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen based on their kid's weight or age as well. Simply say, "Alexa, ask KidsMD about [symptom] or dosing."
KidsMD is the first healthcare skill to launch on Amazon's smart speaker system. Although developers have mentioned that the new skill is not meant to replace an actual visit to the doctor, it is designed as an aid to answer quick, basic questions on the go.
"The KidsMD™ skill makes it easier to access medical information from Boston Children's Hospital, a world-class medical institution. That access is important for all of our Alexa customers, and particularly parents," said Amazon Alexa director Rob Pulciani in a statement. "We're thrilled to be working with Boston Children's on such a unique and valuable skill. We now have over 500 Alexa skills, and we're looking forward to adding more important skills like this for our customers."
If you are in a pinch and in need of a carpenter or plumber, Echo owners will also be able to ask their speaker to call them a skilled professional using HomeAdvisor's new app. Users will be asked to provide their zip code and phone number and simply wait for the requested, pre-screened home service professional to call them back to schedule an appointment.
The latest smart skills added to Alexa's growing repertoire highlight Amazon's trend to showcase the smart home hub as more than just an entertainment system. In March, the company announced integration with Fitbit, allowing the voice-assistant to tell a user how they're doing and hear praise for their daily activity. The digital assistant can also order you a pizza, read Kindle books to you, play your favorite Spotify playlist and hail you an Uber cab.