For someone with limited communication and accessibility abilities, two different Alexa devices in one room can help. My mom now has two Alexa devices in her room at the assisted living center: The Echo Show and the Echo Dot (3rd gen.). Here’s why, and how she uses them.
Customize the ‘Wake Words’. The Show is set to respond to the name ‘Alexa’, and the Dot is set to respond to the name ‘Echo’, so the devices don’t get confused and both try to respond. This is called changing the device ‘Wake Word’. There are four different wake words to choose from. To make the change, go to the Alexa App > Devices tab > [the device] > Wake Word. See the screenshot below.
Image from Amazon
When people ‘drop-in’ on Mom, they show up on the Echo Show device. She sees and hears the person dropping in, and that person can see and hear her.
From the Show, she can also stream a TV show or movie from the Prime selection, see news and weather updates, and when dormant, it displays a slide show of the photos in her Amazon photo cloud.
She can also use the touch screen on the Show if she’s having trouble speaking on a particular day.
Image from Amazon
The Echo Dot device was added because the Dot mic understands her better. It’s good for when she wants to call someone in her contacts, listen to music, get the news or weather report, or listen to an audio book.
Drop-in setting: This is the other important setting on the ‘Dot’. The Dot is set to allow drop-ins only from ‘My Household’. The ‘My Household’ setting includes only the Alexa devices that share her wifi network. In other words, the only device that can drop in on the Dot is her own Echo Show. Her contacts in other locations can drop in only on her Show. Here’s how we use the ‘My Household’ drop in set up on the Dot:
- Enabling her two devices to drop-in on each other, allows them to be used as walkie talkies. This helps her communicate with in-person visitors. She can barely speak above a whisper. Social distancing and mask requirements make it nearly impossible to hear her from the required 8-10 feet away. She can speak into the Dot, and the person sitting at a distance with the Echo Show can hear her well. Sometimes our visits were outdoors, where we had to contend with lawn mowing crews. Other times we we’ve been separated by a glass barrier. The walkie-talkie set up is the only way we could hear each other.
- When I drop in on her Echo Show, and our conversation is finished, I can speak through the Echo Show to her Echo Dot, and start an audio book, or music, or a news or weather briefing.
- “Echo, read my book.”
- “Echo, what’s my news briefing?”
- “Echo, what’s the weather forecast for this evening?”
- “Echo, what time do the Kansas Jayhawks play?”
FOR MORE ALEXA POSTS, HEAD TO THE ‘ALEXA TIPS’ CATEGORY:
- Alexa tips category
- Alexa, drop in on Mom. (There’s an Echo in here)
- Alexa, the Show-Me edition (about the Echo Show)
ABOUT The Run-Sew-Read Alexa series
My wheel-chair-bound mom has spent the past year in a care home locked down for the Covid-19 pandemic. She has advanced Parkinson’s. She can still speak softly and very slowly, and she can very slowly feed herself soft foods, and drink through a straw. That’s about it. She can’t stay sitting up straight for more than a few minutes. Alexa devices have become our way of communicating with her, and her way of being informed and entertained from the outside world. It also enables her to turn her lights on and off without calling a staff member to do it.
Because the Alexa system has worked well for us, I’m doing a series of posts with information and suggestions of how we’ve used the system to thwart this year of isolation.
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