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Amazon Echo life-saving features
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Tech tips

Tech tip: Use an Amazon Echo as an affordable Life Alert alternative

Your smart speaker can remind you of appointments, give you a heads up on the weather, give you a wake-up call, tell a joke, set the mood for movie night, get the news and much more.

Add a video screen and you get access to many more cool features. Let’s start with a simple one. Did you know that you can turn your Amazon Echo Show into a digital photo frame? Tap or click here to find out how.

But there’s an even more important feature that you might not be taking advantage of. Did you know that your Echo can also save your life? Read on to find out how.

Medical alert systems aren’t cheap

Medical alert systems traditionally consist of a help button worn around the neck and an electronic base connected to a telephone jack. More modern systems use a cellular connection and don’t need a base. If an emergency occurs, push the button and you’ll be connected to a call center, which can alert emergency personnel.

Beyond the price of the hardware, you’ll pay a monthly fee to keep an active medical alert system. This can range from $20 to $40 or more depending on the company’s features, such as fall detection and voice control.

Try Alexa instead

Here’s the good news: an Amazon Alexa-enabled speaker can double as a medical alert system, with many of the same functions. The most affordable Echo speaker, the fourth-generation Echo Dot, is currently selling for under $40 on Amazon. Watch for deals that will drop the price even lower.

You can buy a few Dot speakers and scatter them around the house of an elderly loved one who may need your help someday. You’ll need to use their phone to set this up.

First, you’ll need the Alexa app, which is free to download. Once you have it, it’s time to set up the smart speakers:

  • Open the Alexa app and select More, then Add a Device.
  • Select Amazon EchoEcho Dot, or whatever Alexa-enabled device you picked.
  • Follow the instructions to set up your device and repeat the process for additional speakers.

Now you need to set up the smart speaker to make calls:

  • Open the Alexa app and select Communicate.
  • Tap Call and give Alexa permission to access your contacts and verify the number of the phone you’re using to set this up.
  • Now your loved one can call anyone in their contact list by saying “Alexa, call [contact’s name]” within earshot of an Alexa-enabled device.

If you’re using an Echo Show or the Alexa app to make a video call, you can toggle the video on or off any time. 

Drop in on your loved one

You can call someone’s Alexa-enabled speaker directly as you would with an intercom system. The person on the other end doesn’t need to answer or accept the call.

Here’s how to set up Drop In:

  • Open the Alexa app on the phone of the person who you want to drop in on.
  • Go to Communicate, then tap the contacts button at the top right.
  • Tap one of the available contacts and then toggle on Allow Drop In.

How to use the Drop In feature:

  • Open the Alexa app on your phone and tap Communicate.
  • Tap Drop In at the top of the screen.
  • A list of devices will appear that you’re permitted to Drop In on.
  • Tap the device you want to communicate with.

Bring everyone together

Amazon Together is a monthly service full of caretaking features so you can check in on loved ones or get them help no matter how far apart you are. This is done by connecting your Alexa app to an Alexa-enabled device in their home.

The service costs $19.99 per month or $199 per year. Here’s what you get with a subscription:

  • Customized alerts: Get notified when your loved one uses Alexa for the first time each day. You’ll also get notified if no activity is detected by a certain time you decide on. Tap the notification and you can call or Drop In on them right away.
  • 24/7 Urgent Response: If your loved one asks for help by saying “Alexa, call for help,” they’ll be connected to Urgent Response agents who can get the assistance they need. You’ll receive a notification with more information on the event.
  • Fall detection assistance: If a compatible third-party device detects a fall, it can send a signal to prompt Alexa to ask the person if they need to call Urgent Response.
  • Remote assist: You can use your phone to help your loved ones by sending reminders, managing their shopping lists, setting up music services and podcasts and more.
  • Circle of Support: Up to 10 family members and friends can join you to help your loved one with Alexa Together.

Tap or click here to try a free six-month trial of Amazon Together. You and your loved one each need their own Amazon account, and they’ll also need an Alexa-enabled device in their home.

Keep reading

Digital assistant driving you nuts? How to get Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant to pipe down

Runner says the Apple Watch saved his life after a violent fall

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