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My Alcohol Tracker: A new Alexa skill in partnership with Cancer Research UK

22 November 2017

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our latest collaboration with Cancer Research UK – a new Alexa skill known as ‘My Alcohol Tracker’.

Users can interact with their Echo to set a weekly goal (such as drinking less than the recommended guidelines), record what they’re drinking each week, and get a summary of the units and calories they’ve consumed. My Alcohol Tracker also offers users information on the health benefits they could enjoy as a result of reducing their alcohol intake, as well as helpful tips on ways to cut down.

The charity had been looking for an engaging way to make people more aware of the link between alcohol and cancer, and encourage them to cut down. With the popularity of voice technology continuing to grow, the Amazon Echo was the perfect platform to achieve this and simultaneously create a seamless, easy-to-use tool.

How it works

To develop the skill, we created a spreadsheet of drinks and their associated alcohol units and calories. When a user adds a drink by name or volume, these values are saved, allowing Alexa to share related health messages based on how the user is doing in relation to their weekly goal.

Using the cloud-based Amazon DynamoDB ensured we had a fast, flexible platform to allow Alexa to quickly recall data and report it back to users in scripted, supportive responses such as:

“You’ve now had [WeekUnits] unit[s] in total this week. You’re still on track to meet your goal this week. Well done!”

A lasting partnership

My Alcohol Tracker is the latest development in our long-standing partnership with the charity to help increase awareness. Over the years, that’s seen us redesign Cancer Research UK’s homepage and the Stand up to Cancer campaign page, as well as working together on a virtual reality lab tour.

This new collaboration demonstrates how we can work with widely adopted technologies to provide tangible, real-life benefit and help make a difference to people’s overall health and wellbeing.

Michael Docherty, Director of Digital at Cancer Research UK, said:

“As a charity, we recognise that technology will play a continually important part in helping us to beat cancer sooner. Alcohol increases the risk of seven types of cancer, but awareness of the link is very low. My 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.”

Launched as part of Alcohol Awareness Week, My Alcohol Tracker has already received positive feedback and reviews. Read more about the project on Cancer Research UK’s science blog, or enable the skill now on the Alexa Skills store.

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