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, although the TP link does sometimes take a couple of attempts to respond at times. 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.
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.
The Echo Dot now gives you the ability to message or call someone and so this is a handy update as for people like me who are disabled, it means that if we have a fall or become unwell, we can ask for help just by using the Echo Dot.
So purchasing one of these Echo Dots for an elderly or housebound relative will also give piece of mind!
I also have the Ring Video Doorbell and you can talk through to the doorbell via the Echo Dot or if you have the Fire TV or Echo Show it will also show you who is at the front door!