Commentary

Boomers Embrace The Amazon Echo And The 'Internet Of Things'

Amazon Echo, commonly referred to as “Alexa,” has become one of the most popular gadgets to debut in recent years. People the world over are embracing all of the ways that the device, first available in June 2015, can aid in managing the home and day-to-day life. While this kind of technology is often thought to appeal to only younger demographics, Boomers are finding new and innovative ways to use Echo to meet their specific needs.

The device, by nature, is one that relies on auditory interaction instead of visual input. As we age, many people have trouble seeing the small screen offered by a phone, finding it even more difficult to use the tiny keyboard to enter text. Through the voice command interface offered by Echo, Boomers are finding features easier to use. Need to make a grocery list? Just ask aloud that Alexa add an item to your list, and she’ll compile all of your requested items so you can review them later. She’ll even send a text message to your phone or tablet with the list to help you when shopping in the store.

One of the truly modern marvels of Echo is the ability to manage your home through the Internet of Things – those household devices that connect to the Internet. The device can be paired with several other gadgets now on the market to create a truly interconnected home management system. 

Phillips offers its Hue line of light bulbs. When the bulbs are connected to the Echo, they can be controlled by simple voice command, making turning lights on and off a breeze. This function is very helpful for seniors traversing a home, letting users turn lights on before moving, providing added safety and security. Remember those times when you heard a strange noise in the house? Now the user can turn the lights on before leaving the bedroom to check it out!

The popular Nest thermostat system can be connected to Echo, allowing a user to control a home’s temperature by simply asking for it to be warmer or colder. The Nest also connects to phones and tablets, letting loved ones keep an eye on home temperature and energy usage from any location.

While any age demographic might find these abilities helpful, Boomers are especially appreciative as Echo combines the control of several devices into one easy-to-use interface that can take commands from anyone in the household, such as family members and caregivers. 

The Echo’s reminder system is also very powerful when put to use for a Boomer. It can help remind users to take medications and set notifications for myriad daily tasks. These functions are especially useful for those with early-onset dementia, as the device never tires of reminding users what they need to do or of answering questions that a caregiver might find repetitive. 

Retirement communities around the country are also seeing the benefits of these devices, offering them pre-installed in homes. These systems can be a huge benefit for the community, as they can sample information on power efficiency in units, check on resident safety and provide another vehicle for communication/information-sharing.

As this type of technology continues to evolve and grow, it is expected that additional interconnected products will be aimed squarely at the Boomer market. Google has entered the fray with its own in-home assistant, and several companies are developing similar devices for niche audiences, such as children and seniors. Additionally, more connected products are being developed each day. These include health management applications and devices, communication aides and, of course, new and varied entertainment options. By combining all of these functions into a device that doesn’t rely on a screen, manufacturers have found a niche for those who desire to age in place, providing control of their home by voice alone. 

By embracing these advances, Boomers and seniors are finding ways to remain in their homes longer. Professionals marketing and selling to these demographics would do well to fully understand these products. They should definitely make them a part of their offerings going forward, whether that be interconnected applications or pre-installed, in home packages.

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