Echo & Alexa User Discussions and Support Forums

General Category => Echo Assistive Technologies => Topic started by: Disabled Echo on August 22, 2015, 04:15:14 am

Title: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Disabled Echo 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?
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Disabled Echo 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: jwlv 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Disabled Echo 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: fdpo 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: jwlv 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: fdpo 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. 
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: mike27oct 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Jean D 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Disabled Echo 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Disabled Echo 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: MikeFromHC 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)
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: jwlv 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. 
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: jangelo42 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?
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: stylinlp38 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.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: renegade600 on May 04, 2016, 03:19:01 pm
you already posted about this in another thread.  Why post again? 
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: mike27oct on May 04, 2016, 03:46:51 pm
Because someone else suggested he do so. Anyway, there is additional info here.  (Relax, he is trying to resolve his issue.)

Also, if the Echo has trouble understanding his son say "Echo," maybe he ought to select either Alexa or Amazon for the wake word; whichever one has more success.  If device has trouble  understanding anyone else saying Echo as the wake word, this appears to be a defective device, and that is another issue.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: DParker on May 04, 2016, 04:21:45 pm
you already posted about this in another thread.  Why post again?

It probably had something to do with the first sentence in Monkey Demon's post in the thread you're referencing:

"Have you tried reviewing the posts and maybe posting something on the "For Disabled/Elderly" topic over in the "Echo Development, Hacking, & Technical Discussion" category? There are probably others who share your concerns."

Also, if the Echo has trouble understanding his son say "Echo," maybe he ought to select either Alexa or Amazon for the wake word; whichever one has more success.

From the post you're both commenting on (emphasis mine):

"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."
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: stylinlp38 on May 05, 2016, 04:23:11 pm
Yup, well, if anything at least it will make others that have disabilities aware of the possibility of being understood by the Echo. Im going to have my son try to say Alekka tonight.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Beckyricha on May 27, 2016, 11:00:19 pm
I use Alexa for my mom in law. It does as lot but not everything i wish. Would be better if it could do more like siri or Google, but the voice interface is much better with Alexa. I just wrote an app that can help if you are using it with a smart things hub as there is a cheap device that controls many rf and ir devices, that can link with this app. I also have a version coming soon that doesn't need the smart things hub but has other security things you'd have to work out.  Also, anything that can be programmed with web calls can be run with a raspberry pi or other web server, connected to Alexa via ifttt or smart things. Not sure if Skype can be activated by web calls or not but if so, that could be a solution. The issue I've found with these things is not being able to simplify control, which works well, but being able to troubleshoot when it doesn't work. As long as you can remote in to fix things, there are really a huge array of things you can do to assist an older or disabled person using Alexa and other technology. Here the info on the rf abd ir app i mentioned.  https://github.com/beckyricha/Broadlink-RM-LAN-Control
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: tetraecho on July 14, 2016, 04:01:08 am
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.

That's very nice of you.  There's a few ways to tackle the start-up and shutdown procedure that I've discovered over the years, being in a similar situation myself.  Most computer BIOS sections will have a "restore on A/C power loss", that can be set to power on. Then you need some sort of remote switch, I personally use Z-wave, so that's what I'll describe, but you may be able to use others. 

Now if I say, Alexa turn on computer, it sends a message to the Z-wave switch, via a bridge, that will flip the switch to on, and then the computer will load.

To turn it off, I use EventGhost, which is a fantastic tool for home automation.   If I say, Alexa turn off computer, it sends a message to the Z-wave hub, via a bridge, that will send an HTTP request to the PC, eg. http://192.168.0.64:8081/?PowerOff.  In EventGhost, the PowerOff event is received, and a Windows shutdown command is issued, so the computer shuts down properly, rather than just killing the power.

When the computer has shut down, the Z-wave hub monitoring the Watts used by the computer realises that it is drawing little or no power, and the Z-Wave hub then sends a power off signal to the switch, 'to flip it off at the wall', so to speak.  All ready for the cycle to begin again. 

Another option is to use Wake-On-LAN and sleep, rather than flipping the switch at the wall. In this instance, the Z-wave hub fires a WOL packet, and to put it to sleep, you use the sleep action in EventGhost, rather than the shutdown action.

To page someone in another room I use 'EchotoEventGhost', so "Alexa, tell my computer to page Nurse Ratchet", gives an event in EventGhost called 'page Nurse Ratchet', which I can then send a message to the Z-wave hub, which in turn sends a message to the mobile phone with an alarm, and text-to-speech message, saying 'Please come help me, nurse! '

Or I can send a message directly from EventGhost to the phone with the same Alexa trigger.

The same method could be used to flash the lights on and off, or for example, a radio plugged in turned on loudly, with a Z-Wave switch that is usually off.  EventGhost gets the trigger from Alexa, and turns the radio switch on.

As for TV control, I use a USB-UIRT which can plug into my Z-wave hub, or into a PC.  "Alexa turn on changer" goes from Alexa->Bridge->Vera->USB-UIRT->pay-TV box's infrared receiver gets a channel up signal.

If I want a specific channel, I can use Echo to EventGhost, and say, "Alexa, tell computer music channel"
Alexa->Bridge->EventGhost->Vera->USB-UIRT->pay-TV box's infrared receiver gets 3 signals, eg an 8 0 1

I use the same method for air-conditioning. "Alexa, turn on air-conditioning", sends an infrared signal of a predetermined heat/cold fan speed combo. I just use on and off, and vary the signal depending on whether it's winter or summer.  I could use EventGhost to pick specific temps just like the music channel example above.

More and more devices are becoming network capable, and both EventGhost and the Vera support pretty much all of them, so you can use the same commands, or triggers and instead of them sending an infrared signal, a network one is sent instead.

Using EventGhost, I can set my receivers input to the correct one automatically when it detects that I'm running Kodi, or when I switch to TV, and set volume levels accordingly, pick the display I want, (whether it's a TV, or computer monitor), power on devices, dim lights, etc.

It's a great tool for disabled people, and you're really only limited by your imagination at what you can have it do, eg.

"Alexa, turn on bedtime" could trigger the following things in EventGhost:
The TV comes on and gets set to HDMI-1, the HTPC gets a WOL packet, the receiver powers on and gets set to HDMI-4 and volume to 45, Kodi runs when the HTPC has resumed, a music playlist starts, the lights go off, a timer starts, and after an hour, everything goes off, and the HTPC goes back to sleep.

Hope that helps someone out there, or gives a few ideas. :)
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: tetraecho on July 14, 2016, 09:14:41 pm
As for making a Skype call, here's an example of calling the first person in my Skype list automatically, using EventGhost:
"Alexa, tell computer to call son" would be what would trigger it, although 'computer' can be any name you like.

(http://i.imgur.com/NG0XmrS.jpg)
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: rocket888 on July 19, 2016, 09:16:12 pm
I'm looking to find out if there's a way to program the Echo to send text strings over tcp/ip to a socket server. That would seem to be the magic bullet to fully integrate the Echo with my other devices. I would then be able to leverage on my existing gear and leave the echo for just the voice recognition function.

I currently run a script (using tcl/tk) on all my windows computers that listens on a socket for text commands that it can then run. Thus I can remotely execute pretty much anything that can be run directly on these computers. Tcl/tk has a windows library (twapi) that allows for simulated mouse movement and clicking to trigger any GUI program that might otherwise be difficult to script. Skype is the sort of external program that might be difficult to script, but could be driven using this technique.

By mailing the code I want to run, I don't need to modify the server program (and redeploy to many machines) to add a new capability - I simply send a text string that gets interpreted and run inside the server program itself.  Tcl/tk has both an exec command and an eval command (to run external programs or interpret and run commands inside itself). I use this to shutdown or suspend all my computers and use wake on lan to get them going again.

Over the last year tcl/tk was ported to android (androwish) and I have used this approach to combine my android touch devices with my desktop windows computers. tcl/tk is the glue that lets me do this.  I also have a roku and a tivo that I can also control over the lan using the built in http commands.

So, now I'm looking to expand my machine family with the Echo and voice.

BTW, I realize that some purists would complain about "mailing" code between computers, but I am the only user and it's sure a lot of fun. I do have a properly configured firewall, however.




Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: tetraecho on July 21, 2016, 12:22:53 am
I'm looking to find out if there's a way to program the Echo to send text strings over tcp/ip to a socket server.

That's pretty much what I'm doing with EventGhost.  It has its own webserver, but you could use the payload and send it your server, if it's already set up and you don't want to re-do it again in EventGhost itself.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: robertwoehrle on October 21, 2016, 03:23:59 pm
I have a relative with Alzheimer's.  I'm looking for a way to have a speaker in his apartment that can play custom recordings, reminding him to walk the dog, take his meds, etc. He won't speak to an Echo or similar. Because I live out of town, I'm hoping to find a way to create and schedule the recordings myself. Anyone know of an IFTTT type recipe or hardware solutions that could work?
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: Maff on October 22, 2016, 05:27:39 am
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.

You sound pretty tech savvy. You could use IFTTT to push a notification using a channel called pushbullet. This will go out to as many phones/computers as you want, you just add them to your pushbullet account.  Also if any of the devices are android, the pushbullet notification can be used to trigger a pretty limitless amount if automated scripts via an app called tasker, which could do something like trigger a video Skype chat from a mounted phone at her house, straight to your phone. Could also be used to flash a smart bulb in your house, or anywhere. Possibilities are emmense, but there is a lot to learn. A cheap android tablet mounted at the ladies house & some apps & learning would do it.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: msilman on December 07, 2016, 03:53:38 pm
I am in the UK and my wife has severe MS. I have a bunch of projects to make her life easier, but am finding that the longer I wait, the easier it gets (for example 18 months ago I had a plan to put a screen on the wall with a Raspberry Pi running a google calendar, so she could see what was on the calendar and add things with her phone, rather than trying to write on the paper calendar we have now which she cannot do. All of this is now history with Alexa and the same google calendar though I'd still like to stick a tablet on the wall so she can get a visual of the next week or month)

Anyway - why this post? The original post in this thread had:
8. Answer door.  Possible with remote door lock and video doorbell?

My problem is that a video doorbell is fine if you can get to the internal handset/unit - what I need is some form of intercom at the front door and wherever she is in the house, if the doorbell rings, for her to be able to ask who is there and ask them to wait, as at present, by the time she gets to the door, the caller has often left assuming no one is in.

I am sure there are a million ways to solve this problem, and am also hoping the Echo can provide a voice interface as part of that. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: mike27oct on December 07, 2016, 06:16:06 pm
An Echo is not a solution, but rather a good old-fashioned intercom (or wireless one, so no hard wiring need be done).
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: msilman on December 08, 2016, 04:31:26 am
Mike, You say an Echo is not a solution but rather a good old fashioned intercom.  Are you saying I can use the Echo as a good old fashioned intercom?  Or did you mean that a better solution would be a good old fashioned intercom?  The problem with a standard intercom is that there are 2 ends - outside and inside, and when someone calls from the outside, the person inside has to answer by going to the inside unit, pressing the button and talking.

My wife could be in the lounge, the kitchen or the study so there is no logical place for a single fixed 'inside' unit. When the doorbell rings, she typically has to adjust her wheelchair from whatever mode it is in to 'movement mode' - that often takes 45 seconds, then she has to travel to the front door, that can take another minute, then she has to change her chair to a higher position so she can open the door which can take another minute, by which time the caller has assumed no one is in and has gone.

I know I could speed the operation by adding an auto-door opener, but she still needs to alert the caller that she is in / she is coming and a fixed intercom unit inside the house could take her 1.5 minutes to get to, so what I need is either something she can carry and use wherever she is or better still, something that she can talk to wherever she is...

Hence my thought that the Echo could be part of the solution...
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: mike27oct on December 08, 2016, 02:04:24 pm
Yes, I meant a good old fashioned intercom, but I will modify that comment by saying a modern, old fashioned intercom.  By this I mean a transmitter outside by door, with the receiver not being stationary, but rather a transportable receiver that is wireless so the person inside can have the receiver with them (in their pocket, etc).  I would think that intercoms like this exist today.  I guess I would search for "wireless intercom" at Amazon or elsewhere.  (It would basically be like a walkie-talkie.)

The problem I see with using Echo like this is it is designed to converse with Alexa and no one else.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: msilman on December 08, 2016, 05:17:12 pm
You are probably right - a plain ol' WiFi doorbell / intercom is probably the simplest solution, just means one more thing to carry on the wheelchair (cell phone, house phone, door bell/intercom plus the drink or kindle or whatever all while driving with your one good hand....)
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: mike27oct on December 08, 2016, 06:47:26 pm
I have seen wireless doorbells for sale at Home Depot, etc.  Pricy.  Well, ponder/search this a while and see what idea works best for the price.  And, what do you do if visitors are door knockers and don't use the doorbell?  A basic wireless intercom instead of a doorbell may do the job in this case.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: strayfish on December 09, 2016, 04:54:08 am
This is a UK organisation but there may be some ideas here you can search for where you are. http://assistive-technology.co.uk/home_control1 (http://assistive-technology.co.uk/home_control1)
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: msilman on December 11, 2016, 01:09:33 pm
Strayfish - thanks for the link, it looks interesting - but initial thought is that this is a standalone custom solution. That is not necessarily a problem, but having a tablet like device mounted on the wheelchair from which the user can control stuff is what I am hoping the Alexa AI and device interfaces will make superfluous.

Instead of having custom hardware and personalised software, it will be much nicer to have a standard bit of kit with a suitable Wi-Fi bridge or hub and the necessary skill in Alexa to allow voice control.

My issue with most aids for the disabled is that they are either immensely low volume and therefore custom and expensive (which also has the disadvantage that the amount of research and development is also not that extensive) or they are built in response to the needs of major healthcare providers in which case they are even more expensive and often no less crudely built.

I'd like to see this whole industry replaced with simple, mass produced home automation tools, AI's like Alexa and autonomous driving solutions - but until then, I will keep chipping away trying to hack existing components to better meet the need in my own household.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: kclark2001 on January 15, 2017, 10:17:20 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.
I'm sort of new at this, but aren't there smarthome sensors, like for a light, that could instead trigger a bell that you can label and distribute around the house that would respond to Alexa commands?
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: kclark2001 on January 15, 2017, 10:25:51 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.
Amazon boasts of the Echo's ability to filter out even its own blasting music to hear commands. There's also a remote you can buy that should help alot.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: kclark2001 on January 15, 2017, 11:01:37 pm
Just getting used to posting. Hope this "sticks" to the right post. In response to the need of someone with Cerebral Palsy, an Echo Remote might help with audibility, and it eliminates the need for a wake word.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: strayfish on January 16, 2017, 05:08:35 am


Amazon boasts of the Echo's ability to filter out even its own blasting music to hear commands. There's also a remote you can buy that should help alot.

I'm not convinced about its ability to hear over its own output - it often doesn't hear me yelling at it from inches away while it's belting out music. A remote is a really handy mediator and I use that for when I have deliberately loud music going on several yards away and I need to pick up a phone call or something.
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: kestrel4 on March 12, 2017, 06:08:14 am
My mother is 92 with somewhat restricted mobility and slightly failing recall: otherwise fit and alert and able to live on her own.  She will not use any sort of keyboard.

It would be great if Alexa could initiate and manage internet phone calls and messaging (e.g. Skype or WhatsApp), as well as acting as a companion - discussing crossword clues and sports results, for example.  Operation of household gadgets is a second priority. 

Posts on this site so far indicate that the phone is not yet possible.  Am I right? Can anyone advise and update?

Thanks
Title: Re: For Disabled/Elderly
Post by: renegade600 on March 13, 2017, 05:36:54 am
My mother is 92 with somewhat restricted mobility and slightly failing recall: otherwise fit and alert and able to live on her own.  She will not use any sort of keyboard.

It would be great if Alexa could initiate and manage internet phone calls and messaging (e.g. Skype or WhatsApp), as well as acting as a companion - discussing crossword clues and sports results, for example.  Operation of household gadgets is a second priority. 

Posts on this site so far indicate that the phone is not yet possible.  Am I right? Can anyone advise and update?

Thanks

there was a recent article about  the echo being able to do phone calls this year.  I think it will be in the next generation of the echo. 

 there is a echo device called triby where you can make calls.  It is through voip, not skype - I dont remember the service.    in addition you can send text messages if you have at$t or through some skill that is currently available in the skill section.