Atria Senior Living has embarked on an ambitious project, in partnership with Amazon and Aiva Health, to equip residents and communities with Amazon Echo Show technology. Chris Nall, Atria’s Chief Technology Officer, recently answered questions about the groundbreaking partnership and the growing role of technology in the senior living industry.

Can you tell me a little about how this partnership came to be?

We very deliberately sought industry partners who could match sophistication with simplicity. Our goal is to make things easier for residents – we definitely did not want to add anything that could become burdensome or stressful.

The Echo Show is easy to learn, it’s very intuitive. It’s both verbal and visual and is always plugged in, so there’s no need to manage that component.

And we also formed a great partnership with Aiva Health, which has a proven record of utilizing technology systems in health care. We leveraged their expertise along with the team at Amazon to customize this smart tech for a senior living environment.

So, what kind of tasks can these devices help with?

What we’ve done is enhanced Amazon’s Alexa with special skills that radically improve day-to-day experiences for older adults. With just a voice command – no complicated equipment, no confusing interfaces – residents can adjust the thermostat or the brightness of their room. They can make video calls to friends and family. They can find out what’s on the menu in the dining room.

The goal is to integrate tasks residents are doing already so they can now be accomplished with a simple command.

Can you speak about the human connections these technologies enable?

Absolutely. In communities where we’ve implemented the Echo Show, we’ve seen up to 75 percent increase in participation in Engage Life events. That’s huge. Some communities have even added more classes to accommodate the growing interest, and that’s exactly what we want to see.

It’s being used for video calls with friends and family and for telehealth appointments. Again, simplicity is the key to this. The device is folded into everyday service with just the sound of your voice.

Senior living might not be the field that jumps to mind for someone looking for a career in tech. What’s the future look like for a tech-minded individual entering the workforce today?

We’re still at the beginning of putting these tools to work in senior living. In the past, this industry has been seen as slow to adapt and to adopt emerging technology. But those days are over.

Senior living sits at the intersection of hospitality, health care, and well-being. Technology is the glue that holds it all together. We’re building the infrastructure that will power the industry for the next five to 10 years and beyond – it’s an exciting time.