Amazon Echo is making Life a Little Easier for People with Disabilities
Imagine having a personal assistant who can do things for you with simple voice commands, and you’ll have a good idea of what the Amazon Echo is all about. The Echo has been drawing rave reviews from the disabled community for the many functions that can be performed from the comfort of a wheelchair, or even from a bed. The name of the assistant voice that performs these functions is Alexa.
How convenient would it be to be able to turn off lights, turn on music, listen to news, hear audio books, have questions answered or even order a pizza for dinner just by telling this intuitive smart device exactly what you want? Ask Alexa to do it, and it’s done. Ask a question, and it’s answered for you. Then, whatever you need to have done for you, from switching lights on and off to changing a thermostat setting is done without further thought or effort.
Some of the Many Things the Amazon Echo is Capable of Doing
Just about anything you could think of that you might need help doing, or anything that a personal assistant would be able to do for you, the Amazon Echo can do with a simple vocal request. One of the nice features is that the Echo recognizes your voice, even with music playing in the background. It can identify and clarify exactly what you’re asking it to do. Here are just a few things the Amazon Echo can do, through the assistant it has named Alexa:
– Connect to your cellphone using Bluetooth
– Create a handy shopping list for you and add items to it as requested
– Keep track of items you would normally keep on a calendar, like doctor and dentist appointments
– Control the heating and air conditioning systems in your home
– Gives you the ability to turn lights on and off with a simple request. Echo does this with hub connected switches that are placed anywhere in your home
– Gives you an ability to lock and unlock doors within your home
– Lets you set an alarm clock for any reason, including medication timing
– Can answer any inquiries you have, from current weather conditions to the location of a store
– Alexa can let you know what time it is
– Access information you might need from the Internet, including things like weather and traffic reports
Extra Devices That May be Needed in Conjunction with the Amazon Echo
There are other smart home devices that you may need to have installed to get the Amazon Echo, and Alexa, to do all the things you want it to do. For example, if you’d like to control lights and thermostats, you may need smart home devices that are compatible with the Echo like Ecobee smart home devices, Insteon, Philips Hue, WeMo, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Nest, and Philips Hue. These may be necessary to complete the specific tasks you’d like to have done.
To have Alexa play music for you, you’ll need to have music services like Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartRadio or Amazon Music. You’ll also need Internet access and a WiFi service if you’d like to access the Internet.
What Exactly is the Echo and How Does it Work?
The Amazon Echo is a voice controlled, hands free speaker device. It connects to an Alexa Voice Service, giving you the ability to get information, news, sports scores, music and weather on demand. It has a specially developed beam technology, making it able to hear your voice from a distance, even with background distractions like music playing. It also has seven microphones. It is a finely tuned speaker device that is able to permeate any room with immersive and impressive 360 degree sound.
To begin using Alexa, you only need to say the word “Alexa” to wake it up and begin its responsive action. If you happen to have more than one Amazon Echo device in your home, the one closest to you is the one that will be activated. This happens with specialized technology knows as Echo Spatial Perception, abbreviated to ESP.
Some Interesting Facts about Accessing Music with Alexa and the Amazon Echo
Music can sometimes be a blessing to a disabled person who wishes to become immersed in favorite tunes as a distraction, or to simply enjoy the music. When you are using Amazon Music for your music selections, all you need to do is say the name of the artist or the song to hear your favorites. You can even request a certain “mood” or genre. You can also choose to hear a song based on some of the lyrics (lyric identification), or state when a specific song or album was first released. If you’re not too choosy about the music you want to hear, Alexa can pick it out for you.
You’ll also have voice control that is totally hands-free to get access to IHeartRadio, Pandora, TuneIn and Spotify. Since the Echo is also Bluetooth enabled, you’ll also be able to live stream these popular music services from a tablet or smart phone. The Echo has been specially designed so it’s able to give you dynamic sounding bass, along with exceptionally clear and crisp vocals. The fact that the Echo has speakers that fire in a downward motion means that it can give you 360 degree audio from any direction. This is what gives the Echo the ability to fill a room with rich sound.
Who can benefit from the Amazon Echo?
Anyone in the household can enjoy using the Amazon Echo, but those with disabilities seem to benefit the most from this helpful personal assistant. People who may see the biggest benefits include:
– Those with vision problems
– People with issues involving agility, and this includes fine motor movements
– Users with impaired memory, or any other disability that affects the thought process
– Those with painful movement issues. The Echo can make life easier for these individuals
– People with mobility impairments, like those who need to rely on wheelchairs
Even people who are experiencing temporary mobility issues like those who are recovering from surgery, or people undergoing physical therapy can see great benefits from using the help provided by the Amazon Echo. The possibilities to help people are virtually endless with the many assisting features of the Amazon Echo, and the brain behind the Echo known as Alexa.
One nice thing about Alexa is that it’s built in a cloud. The more you use Echo, the more familiar it becomes with your specific patterns of speech, your personal preferences and to your vocabulary. Updates to the Echo are automatically delivered, and Echo is always connected to help you at any time, under any circumstances, making it an incredibly attractive assistant for anyone who is living with a disability.