We were asked by The University of Manchester to deliver an online workshop to final year optometry students on the technology that exists to support visually impaired people.
How can you use Amazon Echo as a digital solution in day-to-day life?
Smart devices can help to make everyday living that bit easier. Mark runs us through some ways that the Amazon Echo can be used by people with sight loss and other health problems as well as carers.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but I love technology and I love it more when new technology can include everyone – and smart devices do just that!
I’ve been having various discussions about the use of technology with people who understand how technology works but struggle to understand how it can help them in everyday life. I thought I would have a go at describing everyday situations people are working through now with no technology, and then offer a digital solution using Amazon Echo.
There are families supporting each other in many ways, with children, siblings and other family members taking on the role of carer.
As an example, we might have a Mum who not only has difficulty getting out the house to go shopping but can find it equally difficult to write, meaning somebody else has to do their shopping for them. That might be due to a number of health reasons; visual impairment, tremors from Parkinson’s disease, or any other condition where the person finds it difficult or impossible to write such as arthritis, stroke or dementia.
So we have an individual who is unable to write their shopping list and as a result, a carer will need to go to the home to find out what needs to be purchased (either by asking or by looking through the cupboards and the fridge). This exercise might be equally frustrating for both parties – it’s less independence for Mum, and puts increasing time demands on the carer. Oh, and this process will take two trips – the first trip to collect the list, and the second to go to the supermarket and bring the shopping back.
So, here’s an alternative solution.
There are various ‘virtual assistants’, some better than others. At the time of writing this, Amazon Alexa, which is linked to their Echo device range, is ahead of the game. One of Alexa’s thousands of skills is the ‘shopping list’; the ability for the operator to add an item to the shopping list by voice, by simply need to say, “Alexa, add banana’s to my shopping list”.
Here’s the trick!
With the right set up, Mum can use all the device’s features but the son will be able to view the shopping list remotely from their Amazon Alexa app. This increases the independence of mum who can now add to her own shopping list whilst also saving son an additional trip, giving him more quality time to spend with Mum.
Using the Reminder Skill
The Reminder Skill is another function that has the potential to utilise in a similar way. I’m a big fan of using Reminders – it’s not that I forget a lot of stuff, it’s so I don’t need to remember ‘everything’, keeping my head as clutter free as possible.
Using the same rationale as before, the son can help set-up Reminders on the Amazon Echo; that might be a recurring daily reminder to ‘Take Medication”, or to say that “Home Help is scheduled to come today”. This could be set to go off 30 minutes before their scheduled arrival, so it’s not a surprise – for some people with memory loss this could be a real benefit. As with the shopping list; when the ‘Reminder’ sounds on the Amazon device, the Reminder would also register on the son’s mobile phone. If needed, this reminder could then instigate a quick phone call to the Mum just to check they got the ‘Reminder’ and followed through.
These are examples are just two of the many ways in which voice controlled devices such as the Amazon Echo can help people with sight and mobility problems, as well as their family or carers.
If you’re feeling inspired to get an Alexa Amazon, we’ve started a series of videos on home automation and voice controlled devices, which you can view on our YouTube page:
I’m hoping the above exercises will give you some food for thought, hopefully giving you some motivation to think about other scenarios where technology could help…. maybe even share them with us?
If you’d like any more information, support and ideas, or to find out more about our Digital Enablement Services, get in touch with us on 0300 222 5555 or email email@example.com – we love hearing from you.
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