Cancer Research UK has created an Amazon Alexa Skill to allow users to track their alcohol consumption and help raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer. The My Alcohol Tracker Skill has been launched to mark this week's alcohol awareness week.

Alcohol increases the risk of seven different types of cancer, including breast, mouth and bowel, but awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer is very low. As a new way to combat this, the charity’s digital innovation and health information teams have developed the My Alcohol Tracker Skill to help users get to grips with what they’re drinking and provide tips on how to cut down.

Amazon Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers devices including Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. According to independent research, voice user interface (UI) technology is growing at an explosive rate. By 2020 there are projected to be a staggering 138 million voice recognition devices sold in the US alone with 25 million estimated to be sold in 2017.

Cancer Research UK has paved the way in using new technology to engage with its supporters, pioneering the use of contactless donations in fundraising. The charity previously incorporated contactless technology into some of its shop windows and rolled out the world’s first contactless benches across London, making it easy for people to donate without using up volunteer resource by having people on the streets.

How the My Alcohol Tracker Skill works:

  • Users are prompted to set a goal and can choose to drink no more than the recommended guideline amount of 14 units a week, or set their own limit. It doesn’t matter if users want to change it, they can do so at any time.
  • My Alcohol Tracker will let you use voice commands to quickly update your alcohol consumption eg. “Alexa, ask my alcohol tracker to add one pint of beer.”
  • Depending on how much alcohol the user has consumed, they’ll receive messages of encouragement letting them know how they’re doing in relation to the limit they set. 
  • In addition to monitoring how many units of alcohol they’ve consumed that week, users can also hear how many calories their drinks contain and what that equates to in doughnuts.

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.”