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For Disabled/Elderly

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For Disabled/Elderly
« on: August 22, 2015, 04:15:14 am »
This is a post of problems and solutions for the disabled and elderly.  I'll try to update the list on this first post if possible.  Ideally solutions will be quite reliable.

1. Turn on/off light.  Solved.  WeMo light switch.
2. Control Television, DVR, DVD.  In Process.  ColorTiger Anymote.
3. Dial 911 with landline.  Not solved.
4. Make/Answer phone calls.  Not solved.
5. Skype calls.  Not solved.
6. Page other room.  Not solved.
7. Intercom to other room.  Not Solved.
8. Answer door.  Possible with remote door lock and video doorbell?

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2015, 04:31:40 am »
I'm going to give some of our situation.  My mother is functionally a quadriplegic with MS.  She has about a foot range of motion in one arm and two fingers that she can make work sometimes.  The Echo solves or will solve a lot of problems for her.  It is relatively inexpensive, built to take advantage of other devices, and isn't way behind the tech curve like most medical devices.  Having a device she doesn't need to touch and can hear over the tv is huge for her.

This may blow your mind, but my mother hadn't even turned off a light switch for about 9 years.  She can't get to the thing she'd want to use, she frequently can't reach for the device, and she then can't make her fingers work to manipulate it. 

I've seen some posts putting down the reliability for something like 911, but that's because you are able bodied.  There are millions of people who have a hard time moving around.  That's bad enough.  Then there are people like my mother where an 80% success rate would be life changing.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 04:34:05 am by Disabled Echo »

Offline jwlv

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Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2015, 08:27:22 am »
I know the Echo will be *HUGE* for the disabled and elderly. I've seen some computers and medical devices that are specifically designed for this need and they failed miserably. And yet they cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

A friend of mine was so excited several years ago when I got her the Moshi Clock. This was a very simple clock and yet it worked extremely well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO8FK4FwA4Y

Then I got her a new computer and I installed Dragon Dictate on it. I disassembled a mouse and moved the buttons to a separate platform so she can just lay her hand or fist on the buttons instead of clicking with a finger. Just being able to use a computer turned her life around. She can call people using Skype. She can read and write email. In the BIOS settings of this computer, it can power on by pressing the space bar. I have not seen any other computer with such a setting. This was just a generic no-name computer. Now she can turn off the computer normally by shutting down in Windows and turn it on by pressing the space bar. Luckily the space bar is big enough and close enough to the edge of the desk so that she can do it by herself. She found this freedom liberating. These little things that most of us take for granted are extremely difficult for individuals with limited motion.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2015, 12:56:43 pm »
That hits the nail on the head.  For like 40 times the cost you can get a medical device that only works under ideal situations and does very little.  I think for about $1000 we should be able to get almost everything on that list.  My mother is actually very pleased just turning on and off her light when she wants it and playing audible books.  That's just a tiny fraction of the potential.

The one I'm trying to tackle now is paging another room (even when someone is sleeping.)  I need some kind of alarm or bell that can be triggered by bluetooth or wifi.  Should be able to designate which room, and be fairly cheap so that we can have them throughout the house.  I can't find anything.  I might need to get them built.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 01:29:19 pm »
I have an elderly friend in a nursing home who is very isolated; no immediate family and the home is pretty far from people who might otherwise visit.  She cannot use her arms enough to pick up the phone (though she can manage the TV remote).

I am wondering if an Echo might help her interact with the world a bit and make life more interesting (she is really bored among other things).  Having never used one I wonder about a couple potential problems: (a) she speaks very softly and her head usually hangs down, and (b) her roommate's TV is often very loud.  Can anyone tell me how well the Echo might work in such a situation?  I'm picturing it sitting on the little rolling table a few feet from her head.

Ideally I should borrow one and give it a try, but I don't offhand know anyone I can borrow from.

Thanks.

Offline jwlv

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Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2015, 03:36:46 pm »
If your elderly friend can use a remote, then perhaps an iPhone or an iPod Touch is better suited. I mention the iPod Touch because it is essentially an iPhone without the phone part of it, and thus no monthly cell phone bill.
It can work better if the roommate watches TV with the volume up and your friend can only speak softly. Your friend can be a lot closer to the device when speaking to it and Siri doesn't start listening until you press and hold the Home button. Plus Siri can answer more questions than Alexa currently. Your friend can keep it next to her bed and plugged in.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2015, 10:52:36 am »
Thanks, but I think the iPod requires more dexterity than she has and I am sure she would find it confusing.

You are right that it would be closer to her, though.  I'd say a Bluetooth headset would be good (connected to something with good voice recognition), but I don't think she could manage wearing a headset.  What might be nice is something with Echo's capabilities that she could wear like a necklace so it would be very close to her. 

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 02:40:20 pm »
Under the described constraints, this lady is not a candidate for any kind of "high tech" gadgetry like Echo or iTouch, and her roommate needs Bluetooth headset for Tv, not her!  The roommate needs to respect the other person's hearing, but the roomate is likely hard of hearing at her age.

I suggest a table radio as the highest tech gadget for her.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2015, 04:36:11 pm »
As far as paging other rooms goes, more information is needed. How many rooms (zones), is 2-way communication required? Can it be as simple as a doorbell or an indicator light?

Paging/Intercom systems are not "cheap" and you may need to run wire. I'm thinking you can use some sort of IR controlled relay. Assuming you can get Alexa to control IR devices and have them programmed accordingly. And rig up some low voltage indicator light or doorbell.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2016, 09:06:16 pm »
So I did manage to write a skill and host it that she can can say.  "tell Andrew to come quick."  It sends a few requests to ifttt which flashes my wemo light off and then on, sends a notification to my phone, and calls my phone with a specific message.  It's not very flexible but it gets the job done.  This has been a big improvement. 

I wish I had a few boxes through the house that she could say like, "Alexa trigger Living Room Bell" and it would play a tone through that box (think like a doorbell that responds to ifttt.)  All that it would need to do is have wifi and be ifttt compatible. 

And the anymote is getting close to working for home entertainment system.  It is complicated though.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 09:32:16 pm »
So this was really a wishlist and I broke it into two different functions because one is far simpler than the other.  My other goal of this post was to say, these are fundamental needs of hundreds of thousands to millions of Americans.  An enterprising maker could definitely make a business out of one or more items on this list.  The echo is more reliable and less clunky than a lot of the dedicated solutions believe it or not.

6. Page other room. 
Was intended to be some way for the echo to trigger a bell (and ideally flash a light) in another room.  If I had a bell that rang whenever the power was on this could be done now with a wemo switch.  Pretty simple but inelegant.  I have a reasonable solution to this now by calling my phone through ifttt with a pre-recorded message.  But last I saw you can only set up the phone call with ifttt to one phone.  Still, it would be nice to have multiple boxes around the house. 

7. Intercom to other room
I was talking about being able to open a voice channel to another room.  This would be something like an echo being able to fire up a two way baby monitor.  The tech exists, but it doesn't work together.  Or it could be as simple as one echo opening a voice channel to another echo.



As far as paging other rooms goes, more information is needed. How many rooms (zones), is 2-way communication required? Can it be as simple as a doorbell or an indicator light?

Paging/Intercom systems are not "cheap" and you may need to run wire. I'm thinking you can use some sort of IR controlled relay. Assuming you can get Alexa to control IR devices and have them programmed accordingly. And rig up some low voltage indicator light or doorbell.

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2016, 04:36:02 am »
One or more baby monitors allow using the Echo from any room.
Paging could be done in a variety of ways using IFTTT and/or lights or buzzers.
It is possible to give the same name to a group of GE bulbs, then call them from one group. Generally useless but maybe not in this case.
(Naturally I found this out with my superior intellect, I did NOT do it by accident  - or it was my cat's fault. You decide)

Offline jwlv

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Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2016, 01:01:18 am »
This is a crude prototype of a visual and audio pager using the Echo:
https://youtu.be/qEeXR3T-DLw

It uses a Wemo switch (called "fan") that has an auto-off rule that turns off after 2 minutes. The device is an Arduino microcontroller hooked up to three LEDs and a small speaker. The program code tells the Arduino to flash the LEDs, play a high pitched tone and a low pitched tone three times, pause for a few seconds, and repeat. After 2 minutes, the Wemo switch cuts the power to the Arduino.

I think this satisfies item #6 in your list. :)

Here is the Arduino code:
Code: [Select]
int speakerOut = 5;
int count = 0;

void setup()
{
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(speakerOut, OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{
 count++;
 if (count < 4) 
 {
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);
  for (int i=0; i < 75; i++)
  {
   digitalWrite(speakerOut,HIGH);
   delayMicroseconds(700);
   digitalWrite(speakerOut, LOW);
   delayMicroseconds(700);
  }
  delay(100);             
  digitalWrite(13, LOW);   
  for (int i=0; i < 75; i++)
  {
   digitalWrite(speakerOut,HIGH);
   delayMicroseconds(1200);
   digitalWrite(speakerOut, LOW);
   delayMicroseconds(1200);
  }
  delay(1500);             
 }
 else
 {
  delay(3500);
  count=0;
 }
}

6. Page other room. 
Was intended to be some way for the echo to trigger a bell (and ideally flash a light) in another room.  If I had a bell that rang whenever the power was on this could be done now with a wemo switch.  Pretty simple but inelegant.  I have a reasonable solution to this now by calling my phone through ifttt with a pre-recorded message.  But last I saw you can only set up the phone call with ifttt to one phone.  Still, it would be nice to have multiple boxes around the house. 
« Last Edit: February 04, 2016, 01:07:59 am by jwlv »

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2016, 03:50:20 pm »
It seems to me that the missing element with Echo is that at times you need to have the Echo say something without the Disabled/Elderly not initiating the conversation.  For exmple, the echo could ask if you remembered to take you morning pills or just ask for a confirmation that you've eaten lunch. things that a family caregive might want to keep track of but isn't physically in the home to check on.
I've not found a meaningful way of remotely opening a session to start a conversation.  Has anyone else come across this idea?

Re: For Disabled/Elderly
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2016, 02:05:33 pm »
I have a handicapped son with cerebral palsy that would like to control his Echo, Fire TV, Sony SMart TV and Cox Cable Contour 6x DVR and PlayStation4. Not just power on and off. But actually switch to them on the TV and start Netflix, HULU, YouTube or Cable channels. Find a show and play it. But, the Echo does not hear my sons trigger word.

After my initial support call to Amazon about the Echo not recognizing my sons voice using all three trigger words we ran the Voice Training 5 times and moved the Echo to 3 different positions in the room. We even did a lot of voice therapy training with my son to get him to speak up frankly tone of voice but to no avail. The Echo simply will not trigger. But will answer his questions if someone else activates the Echo. I will say "Echo" then my son will say "what time is it" The echo will give the time. At this point, I am going to call Amazon and initiate a return.

The Amazon Fire TV app on my sons Samsung Galaxy Android works great. Its a remote control app that lets you fully control the FireTV. The trick is to select the input of the Dennon receiver to go from the Cox Cable box to the FireTV.