The Alexa Diabetes Challenge winner has been announced; it's Wellpepper, which went home with $125,000 grand prize money for its Sugarpod product, a concept for a multimodal diabetes care plan solution using voice interactions.
The Challenge was launched in April with an open call for concepts that demonstrate the future potential of voice technologies and supporting Amazon Web Services to improve the experience of those who have been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
"Technology advances are creating digital health opportunities to improve support for people managing life with a chronic disease," Tony Alvarez, president of Primary Care Business Line and Customer Strategy at the Challenge sponsor, Merck & Co., said in a statement "One purpose of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge was to identify new ways to use the technology already present in a patient's daily routine. The winner of the Challenge did just that."
Sugarpod is a concept for an interactive diabetes care plan solution that provides tailored tasks based on patient preferences. It delivers patient experiences via SMS, email, web, and a native mobile app — and one day, through voice interfaces as well.
Wellpepper's team recognized that integrating voice was the natural next step to make the platform more convenient where patients are using it most. During the Challenge, Wellpepper also prototyped an Alexa-enabled scale and foot scanner that alerts patients about potential foot problems, a common diabetes complication.
"Sugarpod helps newly diagnosed people with type 2 diabetes integrate new information and routines into the fabric of their daily lives to self-manage, connect to care, and avoid complications," Anne Weiler, co-founder and CEO of Wellpepper, said in a statement. "The Challenge showed us the appeal of voice solutions for patients and clinical value of early detection with home-based solutions."
The Alexa Diabetes Challenge received 96 submissions from a variety of innovators, including research institutions, software companies, startups, and healthcare providers. The panel of judges, independent from Merck, narrowed the field down to Wellpepper and four other finalists, who each received $25,000 and $10,000 in AWS promotional credits and advanced to the Virtual Accelerator.