Want to know the best way to soothe your child’s sore throat? Or what to do when your child is short of breath before bedtime? Just ask the question out loud.
A new service, dubbed KidsMD, is the first to bring health advice to Amazon’s smart speaker system, Echo. Parents can ask the Echo questions about common illnesses like fever, cough, and rashes, and get instant information on what drugs to use, how to administer them, and how much. The app will also work on other devices equipped with Amazon’s artificial intelligence (called Alexa), including Amazon Tap and Fire TVs.
“We’re targeting common questions parents have,” said John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, where KidsMD was developed. “We’re giving people a little bit better understanding of temperature, fever, and other symptoms.”
Physicians at the hospital curated their advice for common childhood ailments, and then stored that information in a cloud-based platform. Then, a simple voice command lets parents get advice on everything from the best cream for allergic skin reactions to what to do to lower a child’s fever. It’s not the same as seeking medical advice directly from a doctor, the developers said. But when it comes to everyday ailments or simple health questions, KidsMD could be a big help to parents in a pinch.
The app is able to give information on healthy development and growth milestones, too. “My wife asked Alexa the other day what our five-year-old is supposed to weigh,” Brownstein said. Without skipping a beat, the AI rattled off the numbers.
The app can also dole out dosing guidelines for over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen based on a child’s age and weight.
Currently, the developers have kept the guidance limited to common conditions, but they’ll continue to expand the range and amount of health care information available through KidsMD.
“You can start to target other types of content like allergies, poisoning, or other conditions where there’s potentially misinformation or confusion,” he said.