Devices Keeping Us Connected—Smart Devices Include Hands-free Use and Video Phone Capabilities

Amazon’s Alexa-enabled smart speakers are hands-free assisting devices that use voice commands. Despite the ease of use of these devices, users may still need assistance with setup, settings adjustment and deciphering technical information.

Pat Nigro, Manager of Outreach Services at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library explains how the new Echo Show expands caretaking and communication possibilities, especially through video conferencing.

“Alexa-enabled devices now include the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Spot,” Nigro said. “These simple, plug-and-play devices must have a strong Wi-Fi signal to work well. The devices use cloud-based software, so there is no manual set-up. Users can also connect to these devices using the Alexa app and by logging into their Amazon account.”

Those video phones seen on The Jetsons are not just a dream gadget anymore. The 10-inch video display screen on the hot-selling Echo Show gives users another screen for video conferencing, front door or baby room monitoring, and even on-screen lyrics with Amazon Music for some fun karaoke. The Show contains eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation so users can be heard from any direction— even while music is playing.

Staying in touch

Justin Moor, vice president of planning and program development at the Area Office on Aging Northwestern Ohio said: “Many people want to get online to stay in touch with family and friends. These devices can certainly make people’s lives easier.”

Justin Moore of Northwest Ohio Office on Aging.
Justin Moore of Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging.

“This technology has gotten more affordable and the uses are expanding, so people definitely want to use the technology, but they might need help in learning how,” Moor adds. “The value of privacy and the potentially daunting complexity of technology are always important factors and several area resources can help users meet these challenges.”

The Toledo Lucas County Public Library offers free services and programs in its Mobile Technology Center, a state-of-the-art “classroom on wheels”—an RV converted into a small computer classroom—complete with a high-speed internet connection that brings access to technology and computer programs to seniors, preschoolers, and high-need neighborhoods. It’s the second vehicle of its kind in the nation.

This free service offers programs including Computer for Beginners, Basic & Intermediate Internet, email, job resources, and Tiny Tech: Digital Literacy Programming for Preschoolers. For the latest schedule or questions on the Mobile Technology Center call 419-259-5350. Get the current schedule at toledolibrary.org.

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