Most of us are now used to having a personal assistant in our home that works with just the sound of our voice. But not everyone. For some elderly who have a difficult time using a keyboard, smartphone or tablet, this type of device can be a useful addition to the home. If you are not familiar, one in particular goes by the name of Alexa. Alexa is a digital assistant that is built into various Amazon devices, most notably the Amazon Echo, Dot and Tap.
Understanding Alexa and What She Does
Inside of the devices that holds Alexa is a speaker that can be heard from various points of your home. There are a few microphones in each device that will pick up your voice from any direction without the need to be extremely loud. Initially, these Amazon devices must be set up with a WIFI Internet connection and through an app on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The devices must also be plugged into an outlet in order to work. Once the initial setup is complete, however, Alexa is completely accessible by voice commands. Seniors will not have to use the app or computer unless they need to add a new feature or skill, or to update the app itself.
Using Alexa for Entertainment
The Amazon devices can be synchronized with a number of audio book accounts which allows the user to stream books from their library directly to the speaker. “Alexa, read my book,” will reopen whatever book that was last read and Alexa will start reading where you left off. Users can also access books from their personal Kindle to be read aloud to them.
Amazon is also continuously updating the app with various “Skills” which users must “enable” from a smartphone, tablet or computer. At this time, there are literally hundreds of Skills to choose from. Again, once set-up, any Skill is managed solely by voice-activation. These Skills include reading passages from the bible, telling jokes, reading fun facts, and reciting poetry, just to name a few!
Using Alexa in the Kitchen
Alexa is a very useful personal assistant when it comes to cooking. Fiddling with a cookbook or web page on the computer isn’t always easy for the elderly, but Alexa bypasses the need to do this altogether. Simply call out, “Alexa, give me a recipe for chicken” and she will respond in kind. You can ask her to list the ingredients and cooking instructions for various recipes, give conversions for measurements and set a timer for when something is in the oven or on the stove.
Alexa Works with Smart Appliances
Once configured, users are able to control certain appliances in their homes with a voice command. This feature does require the user to purchase specific appliance switches that work with the device. The Phillips Hue is a personal wireless lighting system that works with Alexa. It allows users to turn their smart lights on or off or to turn on their ceiling fan with voice commands, as two examples. Avi-on is another skill that allows you to interact with compatible devices just by voice as well, such as turning on the coffee pot or dimming the bedroom lights.
Alexa Can Send Messages for You
You can now call or message friends and family that also have the Alexa app on their devices. To communicate, both parties will need to set up the app in order for the devices to communicate with one another. Contacts must be set up correctly in order for Alexa to call or message that person. After set-up is complete, simply say, “Alexa, make a call” and she will call the person you name. “Alexa, send a message” will send a message to the contact you name, as well. You can even play messages that are left on your device just by asking Alexa to play them for you.
These are just a few of the many things Alexa can do for you. We have Alexa set-up to wake-up Dad & remind him to take his medication. Alexa is an extremely useful tool for seniors who are still independent in their homes. Alexa makes life a lot more easier and a lot more fun!