I have often wondered about technology and it’s benefit to people who are disabled and or chronically unwell?
I recently received an Amazon Echo Dot, at first it was a fascinating toy really and I sat there asking it various questions and movie quotes. However I quickly realised that this small device could actually be a great help to people who are disabled and or chronically unwell and need assistance.
The Amazon Echo dot is a small hands free voice activated device that appears to have limitless capabilities. It is activated by saying “Alexa”, however you can change this via the ‘Alexa’ app to be “Dot” or “Computer”. Once you say “Alexa” the blue ring on the Amazon Dot illuminates and it is ready for your instruction.
The Amazon Dot has built in skills but you can add extra skills via the App, these can be for home automation, music, movie quotes, air traffic, Travel, Games, Health and Fitness, News, Sports, Weather and even utilities.
The Amazon Music library is available through the Amazon Dot, there is a one month free trial and after that it is a very reasonable £3.99 per month if you only stream through the Amazon Dot. There is a vast library of music available from Pop, Rock, R&B to Meditation music and nature sounds.
I also received a WiFi light bulb, there are many different light bulbs available that are ‘Alexa’ enabled like the Philips Hue lights above. I have got a TP Link light bulb and I have named it ‘Master Bedroom’, the bulb can be switched on by just saying “Alexa, Master Bedroom On” and there is even the option of choosing a percentage for brightness. For me this is not just a gadget, it means that I can operate the light without getting out of bed and as I push my wheelchair up the hallway, I can turn the light on just by voice command. There is even the option of creating schedules for the light and so would be a good burglar deterrent when you are away on holiday.
The bulbs can even be programmed for the circadian rhythm, waking you up gently replicating dawn. There even bulbs available that will produce any colour at the mere command of your voice and I believe that the Philips Hue lighting responds when playing the Thunderstorm on the Dot simulating lightning.
There are even heating thermostats that can be controlled via the Dot and radiator thermostats as well which means that temperature in each room could be controlled via your voice. At the moment this type of hardware is expensive but hopefully over time the cost will drop as more products enter the market.
But the Amazon Echo Dot has capabilities that don’t require hardware, one is the ‘Bring‘ shopping skill and app. Once enabled and the app installed on a smart phone or tablet, you can open the skill by saying “Alexa open Bring” the reply is “Welcome to Bring how may I help”. You can then add items to a shopping list by saying “add” and then the item and once you have added the items just say “stop”. The items then appear on the Bring shopping App and this is great for people who are like me and my wife likely to forget, we are low on toothpaste and so this morning I added Toothpaste. This would be very useful for someone who shops for someone who is housebound, the housebound person can add the items as they run out or as they think of it and the Carer or relative can then open the app when they go shopping to see the list.
For me one of the most useful is the ‘Ask My Buddy’ skill, my wife often worries about me when she goes out, I have on a few occasions managed to end up on the bathroom floor and luckily been okay, but what if I wasn’t. Well it has been a case of me trying to remember to take the phone with me wherever I go, but I normally forget. Now if I fall and I am in trouble, I can just say “Alexa ask My Buddy to send help” and a message will be sent to all of my contacts, or I could say “Alexa ask My Buddy to alert Donna” and my wife would just get the message.
This would be a great peace of mind for relatives of people who are vulnerable or likely to need assistance, it is free to use for up to five contacts and 30 Alert messages per month with English only alerts or
- $3.66 per month, $43.92 annually for 120 Alert Messages per month, 5 Additional Contacts for a total of 10Disable Alert All. Multi lingual Alerts: Spanish, French, Swedish, German, Portuguese and Italian.
- $5 per month, $60 annually for 400 Alert Messages per month, 5 Additional Contacts for a total of 10 Disable Alert All. Multi lingual Alerts: Spanish, French, Swedish, German, Portuguese and Italian. Find My Phone, places a voice call to the Cell Phone listed in your account settings. just say; ‘Alexa, Ask My Buddy to alert my cell phone’.
More Skills are being created every week, Amazon has offered the software without charge so that people can create skills and build devices that are ‘Alexa’ enabled.
The Amazon Dot also can provide a service of just being a voice, saying “Alexa Goodnight” is greeted with “Goodnight Sleep tight” and for someone who is alone for the majority of the time, this could be comforting maybe. The Amazon Dot can also keep you entertained with game such as ‘Deal or No Deal’ or ‘Guess the Intro’s’ music quiz.
I am hoping to test the ‘Ring‘ doorbell, this is also a device that can assist people who are disabled and or chronically unwell and offer security to the person and reassurance to those that care for them. I am also looking into other bits of technology that can help people who are in the same position as me.