Will Alexa be the “Gateway Drug” for Seniors and Smart Home Technology?

Jan 6, 2017 | Industry Trends

By Rob Love, President, CEO

Photo Credit: https://recombu.com/digital/article/google-home-vs-amazon-echo-difference-which-best-specs-features

Photo Credit: https://recombu.com/digital/article/google-home-vs-amazon-echo-difference-which-best-specs-features

The biggest challenge to consumer adoption of smart home technology has been ease of use, according to a panel of Honeywell, Whirlpool, Ring and Samsung technology experts at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. But the Amazon Echo (better known as Alexa) may be changing that.

In the past, consumers have struggled to perceive a strong value proposition behind paying for smart home technology. It was difficult to set up, devices didn’t talk to each other, and control was difficult, often through a series of different remotes.

Smart phone apps were a good step forward, but—in the words of one panelist—”if you’re washing chicken in the sink and realize you forgot to preheat the oven, the easiest thing to do is to ask Alexa to turn it on. You don’t have to stop washing the chicken, wash and dry your hands, and go over to the stove. And you don’t have to open your phone, find the right app, then press the right buttons. You just ask, and it’s done.”

Moving forward, key challenges the smart home field is facing include:

  • Adopting technology standards so that all devices—regardless of brand—work together seamlessly
  • Making it easy to set up. Devices need to be plug and play, or to set themselves up. It can’t be difficult.
  • Training people how to use it. You need to help them overcome their fears, and learn how to really use the devices to their benefit.

How does this apply to senior living? First, we are constantly renovating our residences, installing new appliances and fixtures, and even building new residences. We are also in the process of making sure our communities have consistent, high speed wireless connectivity throughout our campuses. Given these factors, we have a great opportunity to make almost all the residences in our communities use smart home technology over the next decade, far faster than it will be adopted by consumers generally.

Next, for each new resident, part of their orientation becomes training on how to use the systems, really helping them understand what they do and how to use them. This is critical; we have to teach them. They can turn lights on and off, see who is at the door—and talk to them—without getting up from their chair, control the volume on music or radio, tell the dryer to fluff up the laundry, tell the heating system to cool the house down for sleep while sitting in bed, and much, much more.

Last, make it easy! Set up Alexa (or something similar) in each home, so that all the resident needs to do is ask. It brings a whole new meaning to “Ask and you shall be given!”

For more information about the future of senior living, contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013.

To read my initial thoughts and expectations about the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and International Builders Show, click here.

To read my thoughts on wearable technology seen at the Consumer Electronics Show, click here.

To read my final thoughts on the Consumer Electronics Show, click here.

To read my expectations for the 2017 International Builders Show, click here.

To read my first thoughts on the International Builders Show, click here.

To learn what my favorite product at the International Builders Show was, click here.

To learn more about the International Builders Show and how to prepare for next year’s conference, click here.

To read my final overview and thoughts about my time at both the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show and the International Builders Show, click here.


Latest Insights