Online retail giant Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) reportedly got a crash course in aging during a multi-city bus tour that included input from senior living innovator Bill Thomas.
The bus trip provides even more evidence that the massive online marketplace is looking to transform the age-related services landscape. Most recently, the company was rumored to be developing a “top-secret” robot that would follow people around the house and provide assistance as a kind of “butler.”
Amazon has also reportedly been working with AARP to develop possible technology capabilities to enable seniors to age in place at home. The full scope of the retail giant’s health care ambitions are not totally clear, but it teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A, BRK.B) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) to create a new, independent company to tackle health care insurance for employees of all three businesses.
During the 2014 tour—which was recently reported on by CNBC—Amazon Vice President of Special Projects Babak Parviz and other employees traveled to Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pittsburgh to meet with seniors, doctors and thought leaders in the age-related space. The trip included one stop centered on the Green House Project, Bill Thomas’s small home senior living concept that marries homelike environments and long-term care.
That pit stop was no accident, as Parviz originally got an invitation from Thomas to take the bus tour, and Thomas has been working sporadically as a consultant for the online retail giant, two sources told CNBC.
A representative for Thomas was not immediately available for comment.
The bus tour also included meetings with at least three people in the aging space and conversations on loneliness, age-related technology, the competitive landscape and financial opportunities of aging services, and the unique health needs of older adults.
Another reported topic of discussion revolved around how Amazon’s products and services, such as deliveries of groceries and medical supplies, could help older adults more successfully age in place. That includes Alexa, an Amazon Echo voice technology that has gained traction with providers such as such as Glendale, California-based Front Porch.
In November 2017, Thomas told Senior Housing News said and his Minka collaborators were working with Amazon to create an Alexa skill set specifically intended to be used in Minka houses.
Written by Tim Regan