Need to check your blood sugar results or see a doctor? Just ask Alexa

The multitrillion-dollar health care industry is one hell of a market, especially with well over 70 million baby boomers hitting an age when health care is a necessity, not to mention 80 million millennials who are finally getting around to having kids. So, it makes sense that Amazon, which has been investing heavily in experimental health care projects and trials of its signature smart speaker in hospitals, would start creating HIPAA-compliant medical skills for its voice assistant, Alexa.

HIPAA stands for the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which has two main purposes: First, to provide continuous health insurance coverage for workers who lose or change their jobs and, more importantly to Amazon, to standardize the electronic transmission of administrative and financial transactions.

Amazon ran a trial of smart speakers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the last year, acquired online pharmacy PillPack for millions of dollars, and commanded its flagship division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to expand its HIPAA-compliant abilities.

There are some hurdles for companies to jump through to get on Alexa’s health care platform, but a bunch of big companies have a huge start. Amazon launched a site that enables companies to describe the health care skills they have in mind, giving Amazon a platform by which to vet the developers who want to apply to the program.

The program has launched with six new Alexa health care skills from major providers, payors, pharmacy benefit managers, and digital health coaching companies. The biggest is probably Cigna Health, whose users can command Alexa to ask Cigna Health Today for a daily tip.

“With our industry-leading voice skills, we are meeting customers where they are — in their homes, in their cars — and making it simpler to create healthier habits and daily routines. Through our Amazon Alexa skill, customers can simply use voice to understand the full range of their health benefits and receive personalized wellness incentives for meeting their health goals, empowering them to take control of their total health,” said Stephen Cassell, senior vice president of Global Brand and Customer Communications for Cigna in Amazon’s release.

Other commands include the ability to ask Express Scripts where your order is, schedule an urgent care appointment with Swedish Health, book an appointment in the Carolinas with Atrium Health, or check blood sugar results with Livongo.

Product Review

It sounds like a Sonos, but the Beam pulls one trick none of its siblings can

Sonos makes really good surround sound speakers for home theaters, but they’re expensive. A cheaper model with great sound would be a win. The Sonos Beam is that speaker, but were too many corners cut to make a more affordable product?
Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker, but the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Smart Home

Echo Plus (1st-gen) vs. Echo Plus (2nd-gen): How exactly do they compare?

Which Echo Plus should you buy? This guide compares the first-generation Echo Plus its latest successor, allowing you to get a better idea regarding the ins and outs of each device.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Smart Home

Philips Hue users can activate their favorite routines through Google Home

Philips Hue expanded its Google Home integration through the Gentle Sleep and Wake routine. Just give Google the proper instructions are your lights will brighten or dim over half an hour.
Smart Home

There will be 200 million smart speakers by year’s end, analysts say

A new report by the research and analysis firm Canalys predicts that more than 200 million smart speakers will be engaged by users by the end of 2019, which is a growth of over 82% from last year.
Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Smart Home

SMEG debuts colorful dual-fuel Portofino 48-inch ranges for no-compromise cooks

When SMEG launches new kitchen appliances, you can count on retro-classic design, gorgeous high-end finishes, envy-inducing functional wizardry, and lofty prices. This week SMEG launched its Portofino Dual-Fuel 48-inch Pro-Style Range.
Deals

Walmart offers big price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet and Farberware

Walmart made deep price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet, Farberware, and others. Air frying is faster, healthier, and easier to clean than traditional deep frying. You also can use most air fryers for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Deals

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Smart Home

Ecobee leverages humor in a heated discussion with climate change skeptics

Ecobee cranked up the heat on climate change doubters. In observance of Earth Day, Ecobee and ad agency DCX released video of a social experiment that tested the effectiveness of humor in easing tension during discussions with skeptics.
Smart Home

Miele stuns with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and other new products

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.