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Health Mental Health Technology

R U OK? rolls out voice tech resource to support people who aren't feeling OK


By Taruka Srivastav, Reporter

September 12, 2019 | 4 min read

Suicide prevention charity R U OK? has rolled out voice technology resources to help Australians have conversations whenever they need to.

R U OK? rolls out voice technology resource to support people who are not feeling ok

R U OK? rolls out voice technology resource to support people who are not feeling ok

‘RUOK Mate’ is an Action on Google available to users in Australia, created and developed for R U OK? by creative agency The Works. People can check on their loved on by accessing the interactive conversation on their Google Home or Google Assistant enabled smartphone or device by simply saying “Hey Google, talk to RUOK Mate”. If the person replied with 'No, I'm not ok' , the tool will provide alternate strategies for how to manage a conversation then.

The Voice of Us research report, carried out by The Works, found almost 70% of Australians with enabled technology use voice to interact with assistants and smart speakers and of those surveyed 31% would consider using human voice interfaces to interact in relation to health.

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton said: "It’s important to deliver the R U OK? message to people in ways that keep pace with changing technology. We know the majority of Australians believe talking to someone who’s struggling can make a difference," she said. "But what we’re focused on is building confidence in people, so they know when and how to have an R U OK? conversation.

“It’s vital we utilise new ways to build confidence and ‘RUOK Mate’ has the potential to do that in a way that we have not seen before. Together, with support from organisations such as The Works, we hope to empower people to trust their gut instinct and ask the question as soon as they spot the signs that someone might be struggling with life.”

World champion surfer and R U OK? ambassador Layne Beachley said: “This is a great use of technology to reach those people for whom voice assisted technology is becoming commonplace.Having struggled myself, it wasn’t until I was asked ‘are you ok?’ that I recognised I needed support. I’m proud to champion this resource that will increase the confidence and readiness of Australians to have meaningful conversations that can change lives.”

Paul Swann, managing partner and creative partner at The Works said: “This year, R U OK? are calling on Australians to trust the signs that indicate it’s time to start a conversation with someone they're worried about. We wanted to find a way to encourage more people to ask this potentially life changing question and a voice app seemed like an appropriate platform, particularly as usage of voice assistants is growing.

“Research showed us that while people often have good intentions to ask someone R U OK?, some of us hold back from asking because we’re not sure of how to react to their response. Our Action on Google gives helpful advice on when, where and how to ask through a series of interactive scenarios.”

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