Adding an Amazon Tap and an Amazon Echo, and later the Amazon Echo Show
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I’m a sucker for a sale if there’s something I’m thinking about getting. The primary reason for my Smart Home journey was to understand how it can help the elderly have a better quality of life while staying for as long as possible in their homes.
I had been thinking about seeing if an Alexa device could benefit my then 100-year-old mother-in-law. For her age, her cognitive abilities were still pretty good.
She fulfilled the elderly requirement but was living in an apartment in an assisted living facility over a two-hour drive away from us. She had been an avid reader and enjoyed listening to music.
When Amazon’s Prime Day (I had recently become a Prime member) offered the Tap for $50 off, plus an added $10 if you ordered through Alexa (my Dot), I just had to do it.
I wondered if the touch to command, rather than speaking a wake word (such as Alexa) first might work better for her. A subsequent software update allows the Tap, via a setting, to operate hands-free too.
A few days after Prime Day, Amazon offered the Amazon Echo at $50 off via a “lightning deal”, also at a $50 savings. I like listening to music and the Echo is a much better speaker than the Dot.
So I was thinking the Dot and the Tap might be introduced to my mother-in-law. However, for reasons I will not go into, neither of these devices were installed in her apartment.
About a year later Amazon introduced the Echo Show. My wife had been experiencing times when she was unable to reach her mother, who typically was spending most of her day in her apartment.
Amazon had, around the same time, introduced communication features, including “Drop In” which was especially appropriate, at least in my mind, with the Echo Show.
I ordered two (saving $100 at that time) on the first day orders could be placed. Mother-in-law was usually in her chair watching TV and there was a table nearby. One would go on that table and the other replaced the Echo in our Kitchen.
After we got it installed, my wife could now just say “Alexa, drop in on Mom” and a video call would be established without any action on the part of my mother-in-law.
In order to set it up for my mother-in-law (living over a two-hour drive away in an assisted living facility), I needed to buy a smartphone, as she did not have one, and the software uses the phone’s contact list for the communication features.
I got an inexpensive one on eBay and got one month of service. I had conferred with Amazon support which suggested adding her device to my account, but that would not have worked for us.
She had her own Amazon account because of a Kindle, along with books. I configured a free Pandora account with her musical choices.
Several months later I noticed (I monitor via the Alexa app) that her Echo was offline for quite a while. During our next visit, I inquired about the WiFi at the facility and was told they were having problems.
Luckily for us, we have Comcast service and there was one of its “xfinitywifi hotspots” available. So I was able to reconfigure her Echo Show to use it instead of the facility’s unreliable WiFi.
On a related note, I encountered a special deal for a Google Home plus a Chromecast device (a device that plugs into a TV’s HDMI connector for viewing content on computers, phones, tablets, etc. on the TV).
At that time I was intending to launch a service business for Smart Home, and eventually Social Robots. I felt that I would need to have first-hand knowledge for the business.
The Google Home lives next to my spot in the media room and occasionally gets asked something. It hardly ever hears its wake word on the TV, unlike the Echo Show which is nearby in the kitchen.
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