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Voice activated systems or “virtual assistants” can open up new opportunities for people who might otherwise be digitally excluded.
Some people may find it difficult to use a computer keyboard because of reduced eyesight or lack of digital skills and confidence. Voice activated systems or “virtual assistants” such as Amazon Echo (Alexa) and Google Home can open up new opportunities for people who might otherwise be digitally excluded. Local authorities, including Hampshire and Oxfordshire, are now using virtual assistants successfully in care homes. In Cornwall, a partnership between Age UK and the University of Plymouth is improving digital inclusion through provision of Echo Spots. Online health information, including Start4Life on breastfeeding, is increasingly available for access via Alexa.
The government’s new Digital Inclusion Fund has provided support for care homes in rural Essex to install smart technology, and train home owners to become “digital boomers” to help others improve their digital skills.