Two senior women looking excited while taking with an interactive voice assistant smart speaker. Excited elderly female friends asking questions to a digital assistant at home.
(Credit: Luis Alvarez / Getty Images)

Meeting the needs of older adults as well as some members of Generation X and the Baby Boom generation is the goal of the latest Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge.

The contest now is open for entrepreneurs to build “skills” — which let users issue voice commands to the virtual assistant to complete tasks — to meet the needs of adults aged 55 or more years. Developers will compete for a total of $45,000 in cash prizes.

The Aging & Engaging challenge encourages developers to create Alexa skills in four categories: 

  1. Keep moving: build a skill to encourage people to live active lives to maintain strength, fitness and independence.
  2. Stay Sharp: build a skill that lets people explore, smile, solve riddles or answer questions.
  3. Be Supported: build a skill that supports and simplifies a task or daily activity.
  4. Let’s Connect: build a skill that connects users to friends, a peer group or family members.

Developers will compete for prizes ranging from $15,000 for the grand prize to $2,000 for category prizes. Winners also will be mentioned in a blog or social media post, and the grand prize winner will receive a chat with an Amazon Alexa representative.

Amazon has been moving into the senior living and care space over the past several years as providers sought ways to connect staff members to residents, residents to each other, and residents to their family members before and during the pandemic. Many senior living communities have deployed Amazon Alexa and Echo devices across their communities to increase staff efficiency and resident connectivity, with efforts expanding since the start of the pandemic.

For instance, Serenity Engage integrated with Amazon’s senior living solution from Alexa Smart Properties to create a custom Alexa deployment serving as a personalized digital concierge in senior living.

Amazon Alexa and telemedicine provider Teladoc Health joined forces to make services available around the clock on Amazon Echo devices.

Atria Senior Living announced earlier this year that it was installing Amazon Echo Shows at its new Coterie Cathedral Hill luxury senior living community in San Francisco. 

And Sequoia Living’s Viamonte at Walnut Creek partnered with technology company K4Connect during the pandemic to use Amazon Alexa-powered devices for communication, safety and smart lighting control programs.

In 2019, Amazon announced that Alexa now was capable of transmitting and receiving protected health information. The company had worked with senior living parent companies Atrium Health and Providence St. Joseph Health as well as other organizations as part of the invitation-only program to develop the related skills.