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Inexplicably held on Mother’s Day, hundreds of developers joined together for Techcrunch Disrupt NYC this year to create interesting programs that could improve the world. With over 700 registered hackers split among 88 different teams, this was one of the biggest hackathons ever for the semi-annual conference.

Last year there were numerous Alexa related projects, no doubt due to the enthusiasm for the then-new platform. However, this year only two projects prominently featured Amazon’s Alexa.

Ironically, Saturday Night Live parodied Alexa’s capabilities by joking that it could be used to help keep elderly people company. One of the Alexa projects took this focus on the elderly seriously though, with an innovative way to help families support those inflicted with dementia.


Elderly Alexa uses Alexa combined with an Amazon Echo speaker to communicate with individuals. It can be programmed to send email alerts to members connected to the companion app.

Primarily, this is used to send reminders, such as taking medicine or alerting them to call someone to drive them somewhere. The companion app is available on Apple Devices, and can set up reminders for the Alexa. It also has a simple chat interface, that those connected to the app can use to speak with each other.

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Orai Personal Speech Coach

The Orai Personal Speech Coach is an artificial intelligence that helps those who are learning to speak another language; currently, only English. It’s built with Amazon Alexa and a supporting program that uses Quora to compile responses. Orai can be activated in a similar way to Siri and Cortana, via a Hey Orai or Ask Orai followed by your question.

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Mark Webster

Founder and CEO of Sayspring. Designer. Developer. Follow me on Twitter at @markcwebster.