We are living in a digital age. Everything from our lights to our sprinklers can be connected to smart devices, and navigating the net has never been easier. Amid all this smart technology, all manufacturers have their own digital assistants: Alexa through Amazon, Google Assistant through Google, Siri through Apple, Cortana through Microsoft, Bixby through Samsung, etc.
The sheer range of options available can be overwhelming, but it is meant to increase availability and convenience. To that end, the plan seems to be working. According to AARP, about 29% of adults 50 and over have adopted digital assistants, and that percentage is on the rise. Digital assistants add much to life before and after retirement. Here are just a few.
Perhaps digital assistants’ biggest draw is the convenience they provide. When paired with a nest or home device, they allow people to control the smart devices around a home with a few spoken commands. You can set timers for lighting, sprinkler, and thermostat controls; adjust volumes on any connected speakers and TVs; and check to see who is at the door. Even automated pet feeding systems are on the rise.
Digital assistants are great for setting timers without having to fiddle with your phone with dough-covered fingers, and you can ask them to locate your phone when you set it down somewhere “convenient.” If only they could help find keys so easily. Oh wait, they can. Google Home can now find anything to which a “Tile” bluetooth tracker is attached.
If you’re attending to household chores or working on a project, your digital assistant can play music or an audiobook through the nesting device. Especially if your Audible account is set up, Alexa can retrieve your bookmark so you can find out what happens after that nail-biting cliffhanger.
Easy Web Access
As they are all connected to the internet, digital assistants make surfing the web easier than ever. Voice commands can be more manageable than the fiddly buttons of a smart device, so simply asking Cortana what the capital of Tajikistan is is a good alternative to those with arthritis, Parkinson’s, limited mobility, or vision impairment (it’s Dushanbe, by the way).
Asking the assistant directly can also make navigating the internet a more streamlined experience, since a smart assistant can go directly to the desired information while those searching by hand must sort through menus and often bad formatting.
With digital assistants in the home, every room has Life Alert-like response abilities, which is significant when 36 million seniors experience a fall each year. Smart devices can contact emergency services and loved ones in the case of a fall with a simple command: “Alexa, call 911,” or “Hey Google, call Jean.” Even if an emergency is something other than a fall, help can arrive quickly with a smart assistant onhand.
In regards to how safe your personal information is with a digital assistant, they are generally safe. The companies behind smart devices are constantly improving their security technology, but everyone should be careful about which personal information they give over the internet, no matter the form. Highly sensitive information like medical and financial consultations should be conducted through other avenues.
Digitals assistants can improve daily productivity with reminders about medical appointments or appointments with friends. Reminders about medication regimen can also be helpful. You can establish schedules to receive weather and traffic reports, calendar events, and updates on current events, or you can make grocery lists, put in grocery orders, and have the goods delivered right to your home. Smart assistants are great for keeping you informed and for freeing up your valuable time.
Smart devices can manage security footage of your property so you know what’s afoot even if you are not. When you leave to visit family or go on vacation, scheduled changes in lighting and heating routines can save you money and make it less apparent that your property is temporarily vacant.
If you are concerned about your digital assistant always listening in, that’s valid. The devices are designed to constantly collect information to improve user experience and to listen for trigger words and commands. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can disable the function or temporarily turn off the device.
Your mobile devices do not always need to be from the same manufacturer in order for them to be compatible. For example, a Samsung phone connects easily with Google Assistant. Find the right system to fit your needs and preferences so your digital assistants can improve your quality of life.