As technology continues to advance at a dizzying pace, products have become much more intuitive, making them a whole lot easier to use. As a result, people have become less intimidated by technology and more comfortable with a wide variety of devices.
One category of device that has enjoyed particularly explosive growth is voice command (or voice-activated) devices.
What are Voice Command Devices?
You may be unfamiliar with the term voice command device, but it is exactly as it sounds. It is a device, most commonly a phone or a speaker, that you control with your voice. Ask it a question, and it will respond with an answer. Give it a command, and it will complete the desired task.
Want an example? Imagine you are having a discussion about the popular movie Casablanca, but neither you nor your friend can remember the name of the leading actress. You can simply activate the device and say, “Who was the leading actress in the movie Casablanca?” Your device will respond with “The leading actress in the movie Casablanca was Ingrid Bergman.” It’s that simple!
What Are Your Options?
Before we discuss the many ways a voice command device can improve your life, let’s review some of the more popular and easy to use options.
Cell phones are ancient technology now. The new trend is smartphones. Smartphones are cell phones that allow you to use the internet, play games, and download an app for just about anything at any time. What else can smartphones do? They can act as voice command devices or voice controlled personal assistants. The most popular voice control personal assistant is Siri by Apple. Siri will answer questions, read text messages aloud, add items to your calendar, and more. If you own an iPhone or iPad, Siri is always available by touching the home button or saying, “Hey, Siri” to wake up the phone. Samsung, Google, and other smartphone companies also have these “digital assistants.”
If you love your iPhone or iPad, you may also love Apple’s HomePod. This is a speaker that listens for the command, “Hey, Siri” then answers any question or performs most any task that is requested. You can say, “Hey, Siri: Play music by Frank Sinatra.” In a matter of seconds your requested music will begin playing.
Google has also created a voice command speaker. It is call the Google Home and it listens for the command “Okay, Google.” Google Home can play music and answer questions as well as interact with other “smart” devices in your home. Google Home, like most other voice controlled speakers on the market, can turn on your oven, dim the lights, adjust the thermostat, and more, as long as you have appliances that can connect.
The final, and most affordable, speaker is the Amazon Echo. This speaker listens for the name Alexa as the command signal. Example: “Alexa, set an alarm for 6 AM.” If you happen to live with someone named Alexa, you can change the command signal to “Amazon” to avoid confusion.
Amazon Alexa can answer all the same questions and perform all the same tasks as Siri, Apple’s HomePod, and Google Home, but the Amazon Echo has an added benefit for seniors. It has a feature that allows seniors to request help or notify loved ones if they are in an unwelcome situation. The Echo will also remind seniors when it is time to take medication.
Are you a caregiver who wants to learn more about how you can help your parent or loved one? Check out our simple tips for family caregivers.
The next logical answer is – what do these devices cost? The Apple HomePod, which has not hit the market yet, will retail for $350. The Google Home retails between $50 and $130, depending on the size of the speaker you select. The Amazon Echo retails for between $50 and $180, also depending on what size speaker you select, just like the Google Home.
Now that you understand what a voice command device can do and what your purchase option are, what are the main reasons you should purchase one? We will give you three reasons.
1. Allow Technology to Do the Work
You’re retired, or thinking about retirement. Do you really want to spend your golden years doing house work and running errands? No! A voice command device can cut your work in half.
Voice command speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home can control other smart devices in your home. If you’re cold and don’t want to walk to the thermostat, just ask Alexa or Google to increase the temperature. If you have a Roomba or iRobot vacuum, you can have the smart device manage the vacuuming of your house. Check that off your to-do list.
When you’re running low on laundry detergent or your favorite snack brand, you can ask Alexa to place an Amazon order that will be delivered to your door. Errands complete.
If you have Comcast, you can speak into the remote and request your favorite show to be recorded so you never miss an episode. Yes, even cable providers are using voice controlled devices to improve customer experiences.
2. Live Worry-Free
We’ve already discussed how the Amazon Echo provides assistance to seniors, but there are plenty of other ways voice command devices can free your mind.
Use your voice command device to set calendar reminders. Going on vacation? Ask Siri, Alexa, or Google to turn your lights on at dusk so it looks like you never left. All you need is a wi-fi outlet and all your lights and appliances become smart devices.
Or just thought of something and not near a pencil and paper? Tell your phone to make a note or set a reminder.
3. Never Let a Question Go Unanswered
Owning a voice command device means your questions never go unanswered. Does your husband want to know the score of the game? Just ask. How about a recipe for banana bread? There’s an answer for that, too. Curious about the weather forecast in your area? It’s just a question away. Curious about the weather forecast in Hawaii? They have an answer for that as well. Are you planning a trip for next summer but unsure of how to appropriately pack for the weather conditions? Your voice command device can help. Ask, “What is the weather like in Italy during the month of June?” You will receive a report of weather in recent years as well as a prediction for the upcoming year.
How about a question from a family member? Do you want to know if your grandson won his soccer game? Ask Alexa or Siri to send a message to your son or grandson. Do you want to know if your granddaughter would like to come over on Friday to have a movie night? Send the message and Alexa or Siri will read you their response.
Want more tips on how to connect with your grandchildren? Read our list of activities for intergenerational bonding.
If you want to do more than just ask questions, the Amazon Echo and Google Home will play interactive brain games and work to challenge your mental fortitude. These devices will also tell you jokes and provide fun facts that you can pass on to friends and family. How about testing your physical fortitude? Alexa and Siri can provide exercise suggestions and tips for maintaining a healthy diet. Want more information about staying fit? Read our 7 must-do exercises for seniors.
Find Your Voice, Be in Command
Voice controlled devices can benefit your life in so many ways, and these devices are updated daily with new abilities. Embrace technology! At Acts Retirement-Life Communities, we encourage residents to embrace technological advancements and the many improvements they bring to our daily lives. Voice command devices are as simple as talking, so find your voice, and start commanding your devices! You’ll be surprised how quickly it will become integral to your everyday life.