This week, Amazon announced that a select group of developers will be able to create and launch health skills for its voice assistant Alexa – compliant with U.S. healthcare regulation. Tech news site Engadget explains how these new skills are designed to help customers manage a variety of healthcare needs at home simply using voice: “Providence St. Joseph Health’s skill can book a same-day appointment, for example, while Cigna and Express Scripts have introduced skills that respectively track wellness incentives and manage prescriptions. Livongo, meanwhile, has a skill for diabetics that can provide blood glucose readings and health tips.” Engadget concludes: This is a major step for voice assistants, but not unexpected from a company that has been pushing aggressively into healthcare as of late.
A little old, but an interesting read nonetheless: LA Times’ article about the way the videogame SimCity inspired a generation of city planners. For many urban and transit planners, architects, government officials and activists, SimCity was their first taste of running a city. People who went from SimCity enthusiasts to professional planners talked about what they liked about the game. For instance: the way you can visualize how a single change affects a whole city; the ability to see how transit, livability and the economy are all connected. The LA Times highlights the shortcomings of the game as well: SimCity oversimplifies urban planning and is very American. An alternative app called SimCity: BuildIt is currently adding architecture and topography from Asian and European cities. Furthermore, the app lets users think about environmentalism. The game manager explains: “You can play a ‘Green City’ map in which residents have urban gardens and there’s less pollution. Solar power is now an option.”