Accenture's latest AI platform to help seniors with loneliness wraps up pilot program

By Laura Lovett
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Accenture has recently completed a pilot program in the UK, which uses its artificial intelligence platform to help seniors manage their care and daily lives. The technology was developed by Accenture Liquid Studio in London and is tailored for older people living independently. 

It can learn users’ behaviors and preferences and suggest activities to support their physical and mental health. 

“With the help of Age UK London, we identified the more common challenges of everyday life for older people – from setting daily reminders to the heartache of loneliness – and applied AI to create a human-centered platform to provide support and assistance,” Laetitia Cailleteau, head of Accenture Liquid Studio London, said in a statement.

The platform runs on the Amazon Web Services cloud and includes a portal that lets family members and caregivers check on the individual’s daily activities. The platform can also help spot abnormalities in the user’s behavior, such as a missed medication, then alerts family and friends.  

The pilot, which lasted three months, included 60 people aged 70 or older living independently. The company claims the pilot helped identify some of the most challenging tasks seniors deal with in the home and aided in the development of the Accenture platform. The platform used the self-service Amazon Alexa Skills Kit to customize the AI to power the devices.

The senior population is growing in the UK. Many of those seniors are living with loneliness. Age UK, a nonprofit dedicated to elderly services, reports that 200,000 older people in the UK are going a month or more without having a conversation with friends or family. The nonprofit also predicts that 3.9 million older people use TV as their main form of company. 

“Older people are not a homogenous group; the aging experience is very personal, with each person having different needs, and we now have technology that can deliver an increasingly personalized experience to them,” Paul Goulden, Age UK London’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The elderly care pilot has helped show how technology can improve the well-being of older people. The potential here is huge. I look forward to seeing how Accenture and Amazon Web Services technologies can positively impact future developments for the benefit of older people.”

The platform also uses tools to help folks connect to others in their community. It helps participants find local events and others individuals in their neighborhood. 

Other companies are also developing AI products to address the issue of seniors and loneliness. In November Brown University announced a partnership with Hasbro to add basic AI to the toymaker’s Joy for All Companion Pets, which are aimed to help seniors living with loneliness.

Using technology to help seniors living in isolation was a hot topic a the Connected Healthcare Conference in Boston in October. Speakers said there is a need because of the growing senior population in the US. But the technology also needs to be accessible to this population. 

“By 2020, the ratio will be 3:1 — three people needing care, one person to provide it. Those are really scary stats that are only going to get worse,” Anne Marie Paterno Kilgallon, VP of enterprise strategy and innovation at the AARP, said during a session at the conference. “We have to talk about how do we take care of people as they age, how does technology help us as we age? That is the unique identifier across all of this, technology. Everybody’s situation is unique and individual, but technology lets us make it personalized."