Amazon has announced that it has added features to its Alexa voice assistant that can help users diagnose COVID-19. The voice assistant will serve as a first step towards diagnosing cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Amazon has announced.
As of now, this feature will only be available to United States users. Queries such as “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have coronavirus?” or “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?” will prompt the voice assistant to ask about your symptoms, travel history, and possible exposure to the virus. It will then offer advice based on the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information. Amazon’s announcement follows a similar move from Apple, whose Siri voice assistant has also been updated to offer diagnosis advice.
Another cool feature added to Alexa is the ability to ask the personal assistant to sing a song for 20 seconds while you wash your hands. Twenty seconds is the minimum washing time with soap and water people need to perform on their hands in order to destroy traces of the virus they may have picked up. This feature is available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, the UK, and the US.
Users can take advantage of Alexa’s new COVID-19 features on any device Alexa runs on, including smartphones, tablets, Kindles, and more. It should also be noted that Amazon isn’t the first to empower its voice assistant to offer CDC COVID-19 information. Earlier this week Apple pushed an update out to Siri that allows users to ask, “Hey Siri, do I have the coronavirus?” and get advice based on CDC information.
More generally, Amazon has also kept its fulfilment centres running, which has helped populations to follow shelter-at-home mandates. However, the company has also been criticized for not providing enough cleaning supplies in its warehouses, despite assuring workers that it has ramped up its cleaning procedures.