Smart Technology Fails Disabled People, Says Report

Although Alexa can have useful applications for some disabled and elderly people, it is not a catch-all for everyone, according to a recent report from think tank Doteveryone. The report reviews how the health and social care system has been automated, digitized and tracked, and how it often struggles with “the last ten centimeters”, meaning the lived experiences of disabled people who may not be able to use smart care systems or voice assistants. The report gave a few examples:

  • Users with lung conditions may not be able to speak loud enough for a smart hub to hear.
  • Users with learning disabilities or users that have had strokes may not be able to communicate with a voice assistant in a way it can understand.
  • Users with dementia may be disturbed by a voice assistant telling them when to take their medication.
  • Users can easily be left in danger if there’s a power outage, security breach or missed payment in their smart home system.
Better Care in the Age of Automation from Doteveryone
Better Care in the Age of Automation from Doteveryone

The report said,

“Crossing the “Last Ten Centimeters” requires combining the non-automatable skills of care professionals— emotional intelligence and empathy, contexture awareness and creativity— with basic technical skills. It also requires giving carers the time and resource to feed back their experiences into tech development, to be able to personalize technology, and to access technical support when things go wrong”.

Voice Assistants Used in Medicine

As voice assistants become more commonplace, they are now being used in hospitals around the world to help patients control the TV, ask for the weather, and more. Los Angelo’s Cedars-Sinai Hospital is piloting a program that put Amazon Alexa in 100 patient rooms, allowing the voice assistant to get the nurse for a task or completely more conversational tasks like talking about sports and music. Similarly, the Cleveland Clinic medical center recently unveiled a new Google Assistant action to give users information on health and wellness. Given the new information from the Doteveryone report, it remains to be seen how smart technology will be integrated into medicine.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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