A 70-year-old Queens man was saved by an AI speaker when he suffered food poisoning and a Zantac overdose while home alone, according to a local pol pushing to get more of the devices to the city masses.
Doo Soo Yoo, a cancer patient in Flushing, suffered the terrifying health scare last week, according to state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens).
But the elderly man was saved with the help of an artificial intelligence, voice-enabled NUGU smart speaker — a device he received free as part of a $500,000 state grant championed by Kim and which the politician hopes he can get in more local homes.
“The creation of this AI device helps fill gaps in service — there aren’t enough home care workers to provide 24-7 coverage,” Kim told The Post.
In addition to issuing notifications about taking medication, the AI speaker automatically alerts a sick or elderly person’s off-site care-management team when a resident goes quiet or does not communicate with it for an extended period of time, aside from sleeping.
The ailing Soo Yoo’s AI speaker alerted his home-care manager to check in when the elderly man stopped interacting with it.
Soo Yoo got a call from his care manager and said he wasn’t feeling well — then became unresponsive.
Ambulance workers arrived, and Soo Yoo was treated and recovered.
“This NUGU AI care device saved my life and will help others like me who are living by themselves,” a grateful Yoo said.
Kim, chairman of the Assembly Aging Committee, secured a half-million-dollar state grant to locally give out the devices for free to curb skyrocketing social isolation and depression in older adults such as Soo Yoo.
The device is made by SK Telecom and distributed in America by US-based LISMA. It was first used extensively in South Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under an agreement with Amazon, NUGU is compatible with Alexa, which is basically designed to just answer questions.
Kim, the first and only Korean-American elected to the state legislature to date, said he studied the performance of SK Telecom’s AI device, which is credited with saving 499 lives through its medical alerts to senior care supervisors in Korea.
The legislator said the SK Telecom speaker device that aids elderly residents is an example of how AI can be a force for good.
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“If we do AI the right way to help people, it will help people. AI can be used for the better,” he said.
Currently, 100 Queens senior residents have been provided the smart speaker for free of charge, thanks to the public funding secured by Kim. More NUGU speakers will be distributed to another 100 seniors for a total of 200.
Kim said he wants to secure additional funding to expand the program citywide.
He emphasized that the AI interactive speaker service will supplement, not supplant, home-care aides.
“We’re working with the home-care services and senior day-care centers,” the Queens lawmaker said.
“For a little bit of money, AI can do a lot of good things. It’s up to us to figure out how technology can help provide care, and this technology we’re issuing helps seniors.”