Alexa is More

The Basics

“Alexa, play Taylor Swift.” That is the most common phrase, I imagine, that Alexa hears. Because everyone loves Taylor, even if they don’t admit it. I would bet that people set alarms, listen to the news and get the weather, too. It’s all very convenient and helpful. But just like anyone else, you need to look a little closer and get to know Alexa. Like in life, some people are exactly what they seem, and sometimes people are not what you had hoped for. But some are way more than you ever imagined. You just need to look a little closer.

More Than What Meets The Eye

Alexa is not a clock radio. Or better said, Alexa is not just a clock radio. I often tell seniors who are being introduced to Alexa that it’s like a clock radio that you can talk to. But the real power of Alexa is that it’s a user interface for people who need to be hands or eyes-free. That might be someone on the go, someone working with their hands, or someone who has tactile and visual impairments, like many seniors. Or it could be anyone who just wants to engage with technology without a screen. The point is Alexa is more than meets the eye.

A “woman” of many skills…

Let’s look at some examples. Imagine you have a grandparent who doesn’t know how to use an iPhone, but they want someone to take them to the store. “Alexa, I need a ride” gets the job done. In senior living, where we do most of our work, getting information about what is going on and who is available to help or socialize is critical. Staying connected to other people has a significant impact on wellness. “Alexa, what’s going on today?” means the difference between staying in your room all day alone or taking a walk down to the common room to listen to a piano player. Reserving a seat on the bus to the grocery store turns an isolated day into a day of interacting with lots of people, and it brings joy. “Alexa, reserve a seat on the bus.”

Alexa, a caregivers best friend

How about having all of your caregivers and family set reminders and notifications – appointments, birthday reminders, being prepared for a scheduled call. It’s as easy as “Alexa, what are my notifications?” Alexa brings a reasonable way to collaborate and engage for those that typically can’t use technology. 

The best example I can give is the simple “Alexa, start my day” feature we have built for senior living residents. That simple phrase each morning does the following:

  • Sends a text to a family that their loved one is up and about.
  • Creates a card on a dashboard that tells staff that the resident is OK and reduces the time going door-to-door.
  • The resident hears all their content – menus, activities, messages from family, caregivers & staff, notifications, and reminders – all at once. It starts their day!
  • Creates real, person-to-person connections with real human voices, an emotional connection that encourages people to stay active.
  • Create a view into daily patterns to spot changes such as sleeping later or missing check-ins, which can identify wellness issues.  

One phrase that anyone can learn that makes sense. Benefits to the whole ecosystem with one simple habit, “Alexa, start my day!”  

It’s as easy as asking for music, and you’ll be less disappointed than Taylor is with all her exes.

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