Smart Speakers: A Helping Digital Hand for Seniors 

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Humanity is getting older. Life expectancy is rising all over the world and, thanks to modern medicine, people are staying active for longer than ever before. There comes a time in everyone’s life, though, when living independently becomes a burden, when seniors become dependent on the help of others to be able to navigate through everyday life.

This can be especially tough in the countries with the longest-living people, the oldest general population. Luckily, technology is here to help. Aside from the many solutions being developed with seniors in mind, there is a type of gadget already available that can make life more livable for them: smart speakers.

More than just fun

The smart speakers provided by tech giants like Amazon and Google seem to be little more than fun gadgets at this time. They are spreading like wildfire, too – last year, people bought almost 150 million smart speakers, up 70% compared to 2018. The vast majority of these devices are provided by the two big names we mentioned above.

Most people use these smart speakers for fun activities, according to a survey published by CNBC last February: playing music and asking for the weather forecast, for example. Using them to shop for an item or to order takeout was not among the most popular things, though.

But think of these devices as digital helpers for seniors. Even having the news read by a disembodied voice can be a big help for a senior with dwindling eyesight. And there are many other ways these digital helpers can bring positive change in their lives.

Smarter living in a smarter home

Smart speakers could grow into useful digital helpers for seniors living on their own. As part of a large-scale Internet of Things feasibility study, researchers from two American universities have had participants install smart speakers in their homes for a couple of months. Even without other “upgrades”, the participants found the devices helpful. 

When connected to other smart devices, these digital assistants can do even more. Smart light bulbs and thermostats are becoming common today, and connecting them to a voice-enabled digital assistant can help a senior with limited mobility to use them without any further assistance. Aside from sparing them the effort of getting up and turning off the light, the ability to do so without assistance is freeing for most of them. Not to mention the fact that these digital helpers can also be used for ordering groceries and other necessities. 

And for older adults living by themselves, the help of these digital companions can be vital – if nothing else, reminding them to take their medication in time will certainly be of great service to them – not to mention the possibility of sending text or instant messages to loved ones through voice commands. 

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