An Amazon Echo can do a lot of things. It can play music, brew coffee, order pizza, and even help you find better deals on Amazon shopping holidays. It can definitely make a person feel a little like Big Brother is watching them, however. Amazon Echo is always listening, and that makes some people a little uncomfortable about privacy issues. Nobody wants to think their speakers are spying on them. Now Alexa has a new app that is a little less "Big Brother" and more "nosy mother-in-law," because it tracks and records a user's alcohol consumption and tells them when they're drinking too much.
According to The Drinks Business, the free Alexa app called "My Alcohol Tracker" was created by Cancer Research UK. The organization cites a correlation between alcohol consumption and cancer occurrence, and it developed the Alexa program to help raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, and to help people cut back on alcohol consumption.
"As a charity, we recognize that technology will play a continually important part in helping us to beat cancer sooner," says the organization's digital director Michael Docherty. "Alcohol Tracker uses voice recognition technology to help people get a better idea of what they are drinking, as well as providing helpful hints and tips on cutting down."
People who want to use the alcohol tracking app download the program and tell Alexa their weekly alcohol consumption "goal." Cancer Research UK suggests 14 units of alcohol or less as a good goal. Then every time you drink something, you tell Alexa what you're having. (The alcohol tracker will only work if the user is honest with it. Alexa is not yet advanced enough to know if you're lying to it about how much alcohol you've had this week. Hopefully she never will be.)
"Alexa, ask my alcohol tracker to add one pint of beer," a user might say. Then the app counts how many alcohol units that is, and adds it towards the user's total.
That is a useful feature because keeping track of the number of "alcohol units" consumed can be tricky, as drinks contain different amounts of alcohol. For example, there are approximately two units of alcohol in a glass of red wine, and three units in a pint of beer. There's slightly more than one unit of alcohol in an ounce of whiskey.
As the person adds drinks to their total, Alexa will either offer encouragement or advice. If a person is on track to meet their target, Alexa will tell them they're doing great. If a person is exceeding their limit, Alexa can provide advice on cutting back, or remind the user of what Cancer Research UK says are the increased health risks of drinking alcohol.
The app also works through a smartphone as well as the Echo, but a lot of people would probably feel a bit hesitant saying, "Alexa, ask my alcohol tracker to add one Manhattan" while out in public. It might be more convenient to just wait until you get home, then relay all your new information to the Echo on the kitchen counter.
An alcohol-monitoring app is probably not everybody's choice for a fun phone game, but it's a totally optional system. It will only show up on your Echo if you put it there. If someone did want to keep track of their weekly alcohol consumption, for whatever reason, this app could help them do it. And having a cheering squad give you a round of applause whenever you meet your goal is never a bad thing.