By Susan Saldibar
“Alexa, Play Some Jazz” . . . “Alexa, Order a Pizza” . . . “Alexa, Tell Vigil to Send Help!”
If you’re an Amazon shopper you may be aware of a cool little device called “Echo” that allows you to play music from Spotify, Pandora and just about any other online service. But it does more than let you listen to music. It has some intelligence built in -- they have named it “Alexa” -- that allows the user to instruct Alexa to do everything from turn down the volume to read a book out loud.
And, now, thanks to Vigil Health Solutions, a Senior Housing Forum partner, Echo comes to the aid of seniors. Alexa can summon emergency help from wherever the resident is located in the room. They need only ask. She’ll hear them and pass along the message.
A “connect to everything” philosophy
We have written before about Vigil’s creative use of their sensor technology. It’s part of the culture for their developers to find ways to connect their sophisticated sensor and alarm technology to things we use every day, such as our thermostats, doors, lights and, now even entertainment systems, such as Echo.
Why? Steven S. Smith, VP of Research and Development for Vigil, explains. “It’s more than just the ‘cool’ factor. We are all about connecting seniors to those who care for them. And many seniors are cognitively alert, but have physical impairments, such as arthritis or Parkinson’s. That makes even pressing an alert button difficult. By connecting Vigil to devices that are voice activated, such as the Echo, they can easily get help when needed.”
Out to build a “smarter” community
And as more systems continue to open their platforms to enable connectivity, we can expect to see more intelligence inserted into the appliances and devices we use every day. Innovative technologists like Vigil are using their thought leadership and creativity to make lives easier for both residents and the staff who cares for them.
“Imagine if help were always instantly available to residents, regardless of where they are; even outside the reach of alert stations,” says Steven. “Their privacy would remain intact, and yet their needs could be met, almost as though the caregiver was standing right in front of them,” he adds. “That’s what drives us to keep innovating.”