And how it can help dementia patients!
I remember when I first met Alexa. We spent a weekend at the beach with our three kids and their families. Our youngest daughter brought her Echo Dot.
I know not everyone uses these things and are asking, What is an Echo Dot?
The Echo Dot is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com. It is about the size of a hockey put or paper weight. Tap below to see one on Amazon.
Mine is set up in the kitchen because that is where I need the most information. I often need help with measurements, like how many ounces are in a half cup. Or in the morning I might want to know what the weather is for the day. Or I’ll ask her to set an alarm for 35 minutes. Or maybe I just want to listen to the radio.
Cost is reasonable at under $50. Simple to set up. Simple to use.
Sitting here, I asked Alexa to play a Louie Armstrong song, and “When You Are Smiling” came up first. Wow! His trumpet solo at the end was just as amazing as the first time I heard it. I love Alexa.
A few days after I got the Echo Dot, I was in the kitchen as was Chuck, who had no idea what was lurking behind the beige rooster that sits by the range. All of a sudden, I said, “Alexa, play 100.7 Tallahassee,” and instantly Preston Scott’s voice appeared in our kitchen. With a confused look on his face, Chuck looked around for where the sound was coming. That was fun.
Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that can play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and much more. I like to play the state capital game. She asks five questions, like “What is the capital of Pennsylvania?” I keep wanting to say Philadelphia, but she says, “That is incorrect. The capital of Pennsylvania is Harrisburg.” It entertains me while I’m cooking.
My Echo Dot can be connected to speakers or headphones through Bluetooth or a 3.5 mm stereo cable to play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, or TuneIn. The one I now have in my kitchen is bigger than the dot and has a screen. Chuck loves to see pictures of himself on it.
I now have a few compatible smart devices in my home. The one in my kitchen turns off and on a light in the living room. When she does it, she says “ok.” Sometimes, Chuck says, “ok, what?”
The Echo Dot has a built-in speaker so it can work on its own as a smart alarm clock in the bedroom, as an assistant in the kitchen, or anywhere you might want a voice-controlled computer.
It has been especially helpful with Chuck’s dementia. Everyday at 9:30 am, she says, “Chuck, please don’t forget to take your vitamins.” At 10:30 am, she reminds him to mix some protein powder with fruit juice. Twice during the day, she reminds him to do his physical therapy exercises.
Sometimes, it works, with no additional prompting from me. He takes his vitamins. Some days, she says, “Chuck, please don’t forget to do your physical therapy exercises, and from his man cave he blows her a raspberry. Funny man!
Chuck has an echo dot in his man cave. For a while, he would ask me to come get it to play 100.7 WFLA in the mornings. I obliged, until one day, I heard him talking to her. When I got there 100.7 was playing. I wondered how he did it all by himself.
A few days later, he told me that Alexa was so cool. All he has to say is “Alexa start,” and she does. I try not to disagree with Chuck, but I’m thinking, “I don’t think that’s how she works.”
Turns out, I was wrong. Somehow, those two have worked it out. He says, “Alexa start,” and she plays the last thing he did, which is always the same, 100.7. I’m always amazed at how Chuck maintains his independence! We’re still hanging in here!