HAMPSHIRE County Council is set to become the first ever Local Authority to pilot Amazon Echo technology to support older people needing care.

The Authority is working with Amazon to trial a customised version of their Echo device called ‘Alexa’, to help elderly people live more independently.

The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated home speaker with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, powered by the Alexa software.

If this scheme is successful it will help people live in their own homes for longer, and reduce social isolation in the elderly.

Users of the Echo device will be able to add new ‘skills’ to the device and then simply “ask Alexa” to remind them to take medication or check when their carer is due to arrive.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “We are looking to trial this new technology with 50 adult social care clients in Hampshire, to help support and manage their needs within their own homes and avoid the need for additional care packages.”

The specially designed new Alexa software in the Amazon Echo devices is expected to be in use in the testers’ homes by the end of the year and the project will be running throughout 2018.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst added: "This is a world first for Hampshire County Council and our care technology partners.

“Working directly with Amazon will ensure our trial is backed by the experience of one of the biggest internet-based retailers in the world.

“We are very excited about the possibilities this project could open up in the future, and its potential to benefit the future of social care.”

Alexa can be used to encourage people to keep fit and suggest local walking routes of different lengths.

Alongside this, partially sighted could benefit from this by asking the Amazon Echo system to switch on digital radio, lay and audiobook or tell them the weather forecast.

Steve Carefull, adult social care expert at PA Consulting Group and Programme Director for the Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership said: “Our award-winning work with the County Council is industry leading, and we are proud to be working with one of the biggest household names to help Hampshire County Council continue to deliver innovative services to the